, Kyler Murray’s late-game heroics against the Raiders puts him atop the risers in this week’s NFC Stock Watch, writes Eric D. Williams.,
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By Eric D. WilliamsFOX Sports NFC West Writer
Maybe Kyler Murray was ahead of the curve on his frustration with the highly publicized independent study clause installed and then hastily removed from his new contract.
Who needs to study opposing defenses when you can run around and make them look silly playing backyard football?
I’m kidding, of course. A little.
Down 20-0 on the road to the Las Vegas Raiders, with Arizona’s season sinking into the abyss, the team’s $230 million quarterback threw the Cardinals a lifeline with an electrifying performance in leading them to a gutty, 29-23 overtime win.
Kyler Murray leads Cardinals to wild OT win in Week 2
Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe react to Arizona’s comeback win in Las Vegas.
The Cardinals managed just 46 passing yards in the first half. But that changed in the second half, when Murray went 20-of-34 for 188 yards and a touchdown pass. He also ran for 28 yards and a score.
Arizona needed to execute a pair of two-point plays to force overtime. On the first one, Murray scrambled for nearly 21 seconds against a three-man rush, as he zigzagged across the field and ultimately squeezed into the end zone. According to Next Gen Stats, Murray traveled 84.9 yards on the play.
Que the Benny Hill music.
The second conversion was just as impressive, as Murray threw a laser between three defenders to find A.J. Green in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion on the final play of regulation, forcing overtime.
Murray’s heroics leads our weekly look at who’s rising and falling in the NFC West:
Cardinals QB Kyler Murray: In the win over the Raiders, Murray became the first player in league history with rushing and passing touchdowns along with rushing and passing two-point conversions in a game. The Cardinals’ 20-point comeback is the largest lead surrendered in Raiders history.
49ers DE Nick Bosa: The Ohio State product finished with two sacks, five quarterback hits and four combined tackles, including two tackles for loss, in San Francisco’s 27-7 drubbing of the Seattle Seahawks. Bosa is tied for third in the NFL with three sacks through two games.
The Niners lead the league in total defense (210 yards allowed per game), passing defense (142.5 passing yards allowed per game) and are third in points allowed per game (13).
Rams WR Allen Robinson: L.A.’s free-agent addition got more involved in the offense in Week 2 after finishing with just one catch for 12 yards in the team’s season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills. Robinson totaled four catches for 53 yards and a score on five targets in a win over the Atlanta Falcons.
“For a lot of players, to be able to see how the defense is going to play and get a feel for things like that [is important],” Robinson said. “For me, I just want to capitalize on my opportunities.”
Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny: The San Diego State product was one of the most productive running backs in the NFL down the back stretch of the 2021 season. But through two games this year, it’s been a tough go for Penny, who has totaled just 75 rushing yards on 18 carries (4.2 yards per carry). The Seahawks are averaging a league-low 56 rushing yards per game.
Opposing defenses are forcing Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith to make plays in the passing game, and he’s had middling success. Seattle needs Penny to jumpstart an offense that has not scored in the past six quarters.
“We have to do a lot of things better,” coach Pete Carroll said. “But it’s most connected to what we do in the running game. That will make the play-action game come to life, which mostly didn’t show [Sunday]. We ran the ball for nothing. We’ve got to execute better.”
Cardinals WR A.J. Green: With DeAndre Hopkins out for the first six games, along with Rondale Moore (hamstring) and Antoine Wesley (groin/hip) nursing injuries, the Cardinals have leaned on the 34-year-old veteran receiver more, with mixed results.
Green has just five catches for 29 receiving yards on 11 targets. He also has one drop, according to Pro Football Focus. Part of the issue for Green is he’s playing more snaps than anticipated because of the lack of availability of other receivers. Green has averaged 61 offensive snaps through two games.
“He beats himself up for not making those plays, but I’ve got full faith in him,” Murray said about Green.
Rams QB Matthew Stafford: The Texas native was back to his gunslinging ways in a win over the Falcons, finishing with 272 passing yards and three touchdowns.
However, Stafford also leads the NFL with five interceptions. He has now thrown at least two interceptions in five straight regular-season games. He tied for the league lead last year with 17 picks, so he understands he must do a better job of taking care of the football.
“Those plays are frustrating to me, and I know (they are) frustrating for our team,” Stafford said about the turnovers. “I want to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to help our team move in the right direction.”
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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