Three defensive backs. One wide receiver.
Touchdown, DeAndre Hopkins. Game, Arizona Cardinals.
A strong candidate for play of the year, quarterback Kyler Murray evaded one Bills defender while rolling to his left and facing pressure from two more when he flung the ball about 50 yards to a waiting Hopkins in the end zone. Then things got really chaotic.
The All-Pro wide receiver demonstrated why he has maybe the best hands in the NFL, as he outjumped a trio of DBs and managed to come down with the 43-yard pass to give Arizona a 32-30 lead with two seconds remaining.
The Bills’ comeback effort — they had just scored a go-ahead TD with 34 seconds left — had officially been nuked.
“Just to get the pass off was incredible,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “[Murray is] running and dodging and ducking. I didn’t think he’d get it off. From my vantage point, I couldn’t see much, but I saw the crowd go crazy. I kept asking our guys, ‘Did he catch it?'”
Sunday’s replay is one we’ll be watching for a long time. There were 11 seconds left when the improbable play commenced, though it clearly called for Murray to take a shot. Hopkins, who finished with seven receptions for 127 yards, downplayed the complexity of it afterward.
“Two plus two equals four. Go downfield, throw it up,” he told reporters. “It was on three people. They were in position. It was just a better catch by I.”
The former Texans star has made many impressive catches in his storied career, but said “this one is No. 1.”
Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley admitted he wasn’t comfortable once he saw the heave headed Hopkins’ way.
“Any time they throw the ball and he’s around it, you get nervous — and that’s why,” Beasley said.
The game-changing grab vaulted the Cards (6-3) into a three-way tie with the Seahawks and Rams for first place in the NFC West. It also caused an immediate stir from the NFL community on social media, as well as LeBron James. Fittingly, Hopkins, sporting Jumpman gloves to make the catch over Tre'Davious White, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, used a hardwood analogy to characterize his football feat.
“In basketball terminology,” he said, “that’s what they call it when somebody gets dunked on.”
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