In one of the most thrilling finishes of the NFL season, the Arizona Cardinals were able to pull off a miracle in the final seconds of the game, defeating the Buffalo Bills by a final score of 32-30.
After stopping to take a deep breath, let's sift through what we learned from the heart-stopping matchup of two playoff contenders.
5. It’s All About That (Tyler) Bass, No Treble
Before things got wild between the true headliners of the game in the second half, the first half belonged to Bills kicker Tyler Bass. Bass drilled not one, not two, but three field goals from 54, 55 and 58 yards, respectively in the first two quarters of the game, making stalled drives for the Bills at least worth something.
That type of performance bodes extremely well for Buffalo as the season rolls along. If the NFL decides to hold the playoffs using a bubble format in an indoor stadium or temperate climate, there’s no telling how often we could see Bass deployed early and often from spots on the field we’re not normally used to seeing.
4. Cardinals QB Kyler Murray’s Running Ability Cannot Be Kept Down
In the first half, the Bills did an excellent job of containing Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray’s rushing, holding him to 21 yards on the ground.
Buffalo and their coaching staff should also get a lot of credit for limiting the explosive Cardinals' offense through two quarters, forcing them to methodically move the ball down the field. The Cardinals had three drives of 10 plays of more in the first two quarters, and were unable to get those highlight chunk plays the Cardinals are accustomed to.
But in the second half, it was a different story.
Murray and the Cardinals' offense picked up the pace, and Bills defenders had a tough time reading whether the Cardinals QB was actually handing the ball off to RB Kenyan Drake, or taking off with it himself. The former No. 1 overall pick finished with two rushing touchdowns, both coming on very similar plays.
3. Cole Beasley Was The Unsung X-Factor For Buffalo
If you watched the entire game, it kind of felt like the Bills should have been up more than they were, but because they ended up settling for field goals in the first half, the game was never squarely in hand for them.
As the Cardinals started to gain momentum and put pressure on Buffalo’s offense to respond, it wasn’t receivers Stefon Diggs or John Brown who came up big throughout the second half—it was Cole Beasley.
In the third quarter, QB Josh Allen found Beasley on a 22-yard touchdown pass that at the time seemed like it would clinch things for Buffalo.
Later in the game, with the Bills facing a critical third down and needing to keep the drive alive late in the fourth quarter, Beasley made a spectacular play on an errant pass from Allen.
The former Dallas Cowboys slot receiver displayed his vertical leap and one-handed catching prowess on the play, which allowed Buffalo to continue their march down the field around the two-minute warning.
2. This Is Why The Bills Acquired Stefon Diggs
As Buffalo started to creep closer and eventually into field goal range for the red-hot Tyler Bass, it was legitimate for fans to wonder if Buffalo would play conservatively and set up for overtime against the Cardinals.
Josh Allen had some untimely turnovers in the second half, so had offensive coordinator Brian Daboll decided to hand it off to RB Zack Moss or Devin Singletary, no one would have had too much of an issue with that.
Instead, with the field goal try serving as an ace up their sleeve, Buffalo decided to go for what they thought would be the kill. Enter in bona fide star WR Stefon Diggs, whom the team acquired from the Minnesota Vikings in the offseason for a total for four draft picks.
Against All-Pro Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson, Diggs turned on the speed to get the edge in a race to the corner of the endzone, and Allen found him with a beautiful throw.
Diggs will continue to face opposing teams’ very best cover corners, and if he continues to deliver like that, his heavy draft capital price tag will have been well worth the investment.
1. DeAndre Hopkins Is That Dude
If only we knew that Stefon Diggs’ play was going to be the appetizer to what would end up being a main course of a finish for the ages.
First of all, let’s give Kyler Murray a ton of credit for even putting the Arizona Cardinals in position to pull of this miraculous Hail Mary.
As he was rolling out to his left, Bills DE Mario Addison appeared to have the Cardinals’ shifty QB squared up as he flushed out of the pocket, but Murray put an “X button” juke on him, giving the quarterback enough room near the sideline to plant his feet and launch a rocket towards the end zone.
After we get past that, let’s dwell on the fact that Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins literally had two Buffalo Bills defensive backs draped all over him, with safety Jordan Poyer also launching himself into the fray. While this level of defense would bother mere mortals, Hopkins is clearly a few levels above his peers, as his outstretched arms just seemed to magnetically engulf the heave that Murray lofted up for him.
The main takeaway here is probably something we already knew, but Hopkins’ ability to high-point a football regardless of coverage is something NFL fans should relish for many years to come.Published 16 Nov 2020, 10:46 IST