News & Analysis

NFL Week 15 PFF ReFocused: Arizona Cardinals 33, Philadelphia Eagles 26

Dec 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) makes a touchdown catch against Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Michael Jacquet (38) during the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

A matchup between ex-Oklahoma quarterbacks turned into an instant classic, with this one going to Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals in a 33-26 win over Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Cardinals held onto the final wild-card playoff spot, while the Eagles remain in the hunt despite the loss. Philadelphia could still make the postseason by winning its final three games and the New York Giants losing just once.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Story Of The Game

Murray set a career-high for passing yards in a single game, finishing 17-for-26 for 406 yards in addition to eight carries on the ground for 29 yards and four total touchdowns. DeAndre Hopkins racked up 107 of his 169 receiving yards on three catches alone. He made a contested catch for a touchdown late, contorting his body in a way indicative of being one of the best at his position. To compare, Hopkins has more receiving yards than the Eagles’ top three wide receivers combined. Darius Slay being inactive in Week 15 played a role in Hopkins' big day.

Hurts almost matched Murray’s output, going 24-for-44 for 338 yards with 11 carries for 63 yards. He found the endzone four times on the day. Despite grounding the ball in the endzone for a safety in the first quarter, Hurts finished the game as the first Eagles quarterback in 2020 to throw for three or more touchdown passes in a single game. Hurts and Murray each completed seven passes for 20 yards or more. The biggest difference appeared to be Murray’s playmaking versus Hurts’ penchant for putting the ball in harm’s way. Upon initial review, Hurts committed four turnover-worthy plays in contrast to Murray’s five big-time throws.

Even though the Philadelphia defense collected three takeaways for just the second time this season, the unit still got absolutely shredded. Four defenders surrendered either 80-plus yards or a touchdown in coverage. The Eagles’ pass-rush pressured Murray on 17.5% of his dropbacks.

Although the Cardinals’ offense may have made fans nervous by turning the ball over numerous times, the defense played with its hair on fire. Coming off a five-sack performance last week, Haason Reddick generated 10 of the Cardinals’ 32 pressures against the Eagles. Arizona's recent form on defense could make this team a tough out in its next two games against divisional opponents.

Cardinals' Isaiah Simmons (48) celebrates after the team stops the Eagles and forces a punt during the first half at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. on Dec. 20, 2020.

Rookie Watch

The Eagles’ secondary is decimated by injuries, which forced undrafted free agent Michael Jacquet III into the lineup for his first career start. Arizona's offense went after the inexperienced rookie all afternoon, targeting him nine times in coverage for eight completions, 160 yards and a touchdown. The cornerback did make one play on the ball with an interception, though.

On offense, Quez Watkins caught a pass from Hurts on third-and-20 for a touchdown. He finished the game with three receptions for 40 yards and the score.

First-round pick Isaiah Simmons played 60 of 80 snaps for Arizona's defense and surrendered a 32-yard touchdown in coverage. Leki Fotu recorded a timely sack with two minutes left in the game and his team up seven to move the Eagles way behind the sticks on third down. No doubt, Fotu’s contribution helped Arizona secure the win.

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