The Arizona Cardinals have had a good time this season upsetting legitimate playoff contenders. First, it was the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3, and the Cards didn’t win again until Kyler Murray returned in Week 10 when they upset the NFC South leading Atlanta Falcons.
Then yesterday, they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that wasn’t as close as the 24-10 final implied, considering the Cards backed off late in the contest. But it nearly didn’t turn out that way, since the Steelers were driving downfield between the 12:44 and the 4:51 mark of the second quarter.
Pittsburgh made it to the Arizona one-yard line, before Kevin Strong and Jesse Luketa denied Najee Harris the go-ahead touchdown. The good news was that the Cardinals had the ball back. The bad? They needed to drive 99 yards downfield within four minutes and 51 seconds if they planned on scoring a touchdown before the half ended.
Arizona Cardinals goal line stop, 99-yard drive, served as the turning point
The stop alone would have been huge, but not enough given how much better the Steelers were playing at the time. Arizona punted on three of its first four drives, so naturally, the offense wasn’t giving us much to cheer about, and things looked even worse with storm clouds rolling in.
Then, quarterback Kyler Murray orchestrated a 15-play, 99-yard drive that comprised a solid blend of rushing and passing plays, a stark contrast from last week when the Cards abandoned the run way too early. This gave “Big Red” momentum heading into the half, but they unfortunately could not capitalize and go up by two scores immediately, as their first drive in the third quarter also ended in a punt.
The woes were short-lived, as they forced a fumble on the ensuing Steelers possession and went up 17-3 before the second weather delay forced both teams into the locker rooms. Pittsburgh tried to inch their way back with a field goal, but kicker Chris Boswell missed it, and the Cards eventually took over the contest.
While you can point to perhaps several instances of the game’s turning point, the stop at the goal line and subsequent 99-yard touchdown drive toward the end of the first half gave the Arizona Cardinals much-needed momentum, and it barely wavered from there. It shows you just how much one play, and a drive stemming from that play, can change a game even in dire situations.
(Information provided by ESPN.com)