Chris Streveler was put in a ‘tough spot’ during first extended NFL playing time with Cardinals

Photo courtesy: Los Angeles Rams

Former CFL quarterback Chris Streveler saw his first extended action in the NFL on Sunday, the final week of the regular season with a playoff spot on the line.

After Arizona Cardinals’ starter Kyler Murray was injured during the opening series against the Los Angeles Rams, Streveler took the field following a Jordan Hicks interception early in the first quarter.

The former Winnipeg Blue Bomber played until Murray returned for a portion of the fourth quarter. Streveler finished the game completing 11-of-16 passes for 105 yards with one touchdown and one interception, which was brought back 84 yards for a touchdown just before halftime.

“Had a hard count, thought we got them to jump. That’s how we coach it — snap the ball if we think they jump. Thought we had a free play, try to put the ball in play, give him a chance, and just didn’t get the call,” Streveler said in his post-game videoconference.

“It was unfortunate there at the end of the half, we thought they jumped. We thought it was a free play — still gotta protect the ball — but we’ll have to look at that and see,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

While Streveler was in the game, Murray was working with trainers to loosen up his right ankle enough to come back. He returned to the field in the fourth quarter with his final two drives resulting in a blocked field goal and a punt. The 2019 No. 1 overall pick completed 8-of-11 attempts for 87 yards in the game.

“I knew he was working through an injury, but when I was going in I was focused on what we had to do as an offence. I just wanted to stay mentally ready. I just wanted to be ready to go on every series until he was good,” Streveler said.

“Talking through the game-plan, just trying to stay within myself, and manage the game, and make plays when available. Put in a lot of work throughout the week to be ready — that’s the job as the backup. I felt like I was today and just didn’t make enough plays, bottom line.”

It was a win or go home match-up for the Cardinals against an NFC West division rival. If Arizona beat Los Angeles, the Cards would have made the post-season as a wildcard team. However, Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and the tough Rams’ defence made it difficult for Streveler and the offence to move the football.

“As the backup, you don’t get a ton of reps with the first-string offence, but I do get a lot of reps on scout team. For me, I try to take those reps as serious as possible and make them game-like and go through my reads. As the backup, it’s your job to be ready, regardless of reps in practice,” Streveler said.

Streveler dressed as the backup all season long. The only other live snaps Streveler had taken — two — came in Week 1 of the season. He converted a third and short situation for a first down in a 24-20 victory over San Francisco. It was the first time a former CFL quarterback recorded an NFL statistic since 2009.

“He had made plays, handled himself really well. We had our opportunities and I thought he came in and handled himself,” Kingsbury said.

“It’s a tough spot to be thrown in the game without ever having any pre-season football, not getting a ton of reps throughout the season and zero game reps.”