The one play from the 2020 NFL season that sticks in the mind of Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury involved former CFL quarterback Chris Streveler.
In Week 17, Arizona needed to beat the Los Angeles Rams to earn a ticket to the post-season. Streveler was in at quarterback for an injured Kyle Murray. On The Ringer’s Flying Coach podcast, LA Rams head coach Sean McVay asks Kingsbury: ‘What was one of those moments where you say that was an awful, awful decision that I just made right there?’
“It was against Sean the last game. It’s 7-5 and we had to win to make the playoffs. Sean is 1,000 and 0 when he leads at halftime. We finally have a lead, he’s beaten the Cardinals eight times in a row. We’re about to have a lead at halftime and we haven’t gotten a yard all game,” Kingsbury said.
“We finally have a little bit of a two-minute drive going. We get to about the plus-40 and I’m thinking: ‘Let’s just hard count and then I’ll check into the play.’ I was thinking speed option, we have an athletic quarterback in.”
“So we hard count, we think they jump, and this is with the backup who really hasn’t played much — Chris Streveler. He hadn’t played, it was literally his first NFL snaps ever, no pre-season.”
“I put this package on him, which he’s never practiced and we think they jump, they don’t jump. We snap it and throw a pick-six — we’re going to at least, at worst, kick a field goal.”
“Troy Hill was running forever and he almost fell, when he cut back against the grain I’m thinking: ‘Let’s go baby!'” McVay added enthusiastically.
“How quiet is it? This is the twilight zone. You can’t hear anything except Sean running down cheering. In my head I had just thought, ‘If we had just had the lead on him at halftime, we got a chance — he never loses if he’s ahead at half. It was an awful play call, awful decision — everything about it. And then, they end up beating us. That one will stay with me a long time.”
“I liked that play call you made right there Coach Kingsbury,” McVay quipped.
“I bet you did,” Kingsbury responded.
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. The Cardinals lost 18-7, finishing the season 8-8 out of the playoffs.
All season long Streveler dressed as the backup QB. The only other live NFL snaps Streveler had previously taken — two — came in Week 1 of the season. Kingsbury is well aware of the difficult situation Streveler was put into and has a much different perspective on the play than CBS analyst Boomer Esiason.