Murray woe as Packers pip Cardinals in thriller

Los Angeles (AFP) – Kyler Murray tossed a last-gasp interception as the Arizona Cardinals slumped to their first defeat of the season in a thrilling battle with the Green Bay Packers on Thursday.


Cardinals quarterback Murray looked to be guiding Arizona to an eighth straight win after marching his team to the brink of the Packers' end zone as they trailed by three points with 14 seconds remaining.

But Murray's attempted pass to A.J. Green was picked off by Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas to hand the ball back to Green Bay, who sealed a 24-21 win at Arizona's State Farm Stadium.

The Packers improved to 7-1 with the win to stretch their lead at the top of the NFC North. The Cardinals remain in charge of the NFC West, also on 7-1.

The expected "Duel in the Desert" between Murray and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not disappoint, although the game was dominated by defense and rushing for long periods.

Rodgers threw for two touchdowns with 184 passing yards from 22 attempts. Murray meanwhile had no touchdowns with two interceptions for 274 yards.

Victory was sweet for Green Bay's Douglas, who was signed by the Packers after being discarded from the Cardinals practice squad earlier this month.

"This is why I love this squad," Rodgers said of Douglas afterwards. "We brought him in and he's starting for us and has meshed really well. To come up with a play like that with 15 seconds left is incredible."

The Packers win also came after a week in which their preparations were disrupted by the Covid-19 withdrawal of receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, as well as defensive coordinator Joe Barry.

"This is a scrappy team," Rodgers said. "This is a tough, physical, gritty team. To watch our defense finish off the game like that on the road -- it's going to be a great freaking ride back to Green Bay."

Murray misery

The Cardinals had taken the lead through a touchdown from running back Chase Edmonds.

But Green Bay hit back after a drive where running backs A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones both made inroads against the Arizona defense.

Dillon set up the opening Green Bay score with a crucial conversion on fourth down before an eight-yard run left the Packers camped on the Arizona three-yard line.

From there, Jones showed terrific strength to power over for the touchdown.

Green Bay looked to be poised for another touchdown soon afterwards when Cardinals receiver Rondale Moore muffed an attempted catch from a punt, handing the Packers a new set of downs deep in Arizona territory.

But the Cardinals defense held firm, forcing the Packers to come away with only a Mason Crosby field goal for a 10-7 lead at the break.

Murray's first interception early in the second half set up the Packers' next score, with Rodgers finding veteran Randall Cobb in the end zone for a 17-7 lead after Crosby's extra point.

But Arizona responded immediately, pulling to within three points on their next possession when James Conner rushed into the end zone from two yards out to cap an 81-yard, 12-play drive.

Another Cobb touchdown took Green Bay out to a 24-14 lead before Conner's second score of the night made it 24-21 with just under 11 minutes remaining.

The Packers saw a late touchdown that would have killed the game off overturned, and a decision not to kick a field goal on fourth down looked like it was going to backfire as Murray took over inside his one-yard line and marched the Cardinals up to the Packers five-yard line.

But Murray's attempted pass to Green fell into Douglas's arms to seal victory for the Packers.