GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kenyan Drake was almost embarrassed by his four-touchdown day for the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, saying that two of the scores came when he essentially fell forward on 1-yard runs. The other two were so easy, he strolled into the end zone untouched after great blocking.
Yes, there was certainly some good fortune involved.
But after a year of frustrating losses, Drake probably deserved it.
The Cardinals snapped their losing streak at six games — and Drake snapped his personal skid at 14 — by beating the Cleveland Browns 38-24 on Sunday. The Browns fell to 6-8 to further damage their already slim playoff hopes.
“Sometimes it just kind of falls in your favour,” Drake said. “I'm blessed to have the opportunity to go out here and play the game I love.”
Drake ran for a season-high 137 yards six weeks after being acquired by the Cardinals in a mid-season trade with the Miami Dolphins. The running back lost nine straight games with the Dolphins before the trade and then lost five more after he came to the Cardinals.
Against the Browns, he finally got the win. Arizona improved to 4-9-1 for the season.
“This is more about the team,” Drake said. “This team was jacked up about this game and we wanted to go out there and assert ourselves. That's what we did.”
Drake's big day helped Kyler Murray get the best of a much-anticipated showdown with Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield. The two were teammates in college at Oklahoma and both won Heisman Trophies before being selected with the No. 1 overall picks by their respective teams in back-to-back years.
Murray completed 19 of 25 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 58 yards. But most of his most productive moments came when he turned an handed the ball to Drake, who scored a touchdown in every quarter.
He's the first Cardinals player to score four rushing touchdowns in a game since 1993. Coach Kliff Kingsbury said he thought his offence could run on the Browns' defence and it finished with 226 yards rushing.
“We felt like we could come downhill and get that rolling,” Kingsbury said. “The offensive line did a great job of starting fast and we leaned on them the entire game.”
Arizona pushed ahead 28-17 late in the third quarter when Drake scored his third touchdown on a 1-yard run, one play after the Cardinals won a pivotal challenge. Cleveland's Damarious Randall was called for defensive pass interference after a review, reversing the no-call on the field, which put the ball at the 1.
Kingsbury said he didn't hesitate to challenge the call.
“When it's that blatant, there's like eight people in my ear,” Kingsbury said.
Cleveland's Austin Seibert missed a 45-yard field goal wide left early in the fourth quarter that allowed Arizona to keep its 28-17 advantage. On the ensuing drive, Drake scored his fourth touchdown of the day on a 17-yard run to put the game out of reach.
Cleveland's Nick Chubb — who came in as the NFL's leading rusher — finished with 127 yards on the ground. Mayfield completed 30 of 43 passes for 247 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Arizona pushed its lead to 21-10 just before halftime when Murray hit Dan Arnold in the back corner of the end zone for a 6-yard score. The Cardinals had 299 total yards in the first half, including 145 on the ground.
“We started slow,” Mayfield said. “After that, we were playing from behind the whole game. That's pretty much the tale of the tape.”
LANDRY, KITCHENS EXCHANGE WORDS
In another chapter to the strange saga of the Browns' season, coach Freddie Kitchens and receiver Jarvis Landry had a heated verbal exchange on the sideline during the fourth quarter.
Kitchens' future in Cleveland is uncertain after a disappointing season that almost certainly won't end in the playoffs. The coach tried to downplay the incident after the game.
“Listen, I love Jarvis Landry,” Kitchens said. “Jarvis is my kind of player as far as (being) fiery, and things happen, and it's not a big deal. I'm pretty sure it's not a big deal if you ask him. It's an emotional game.”
CARDINALS' GREAT START
Arizona started with an impressive 10-play, 90-yard touchdown drive, slicing through Cleveland's defence with the combination of Kenyan Drake's runs and Larry Fitzgerald's catches. The Cardinals scored on a 5-yard run by Drake, who caught the Browns' defence off guard after catching an option pitch from Murray.
Drake scored again on a 1-yard run to give Arizona a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Cleveland scored its only first-half touchdown when Chubb ran for a bruising 33-yard score, shaking several would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone.
Kitchens said it was a day where not much went right.
“I felt like we were off balance defensively all day,” Kitchens said. “They threw it. They ran it. There was a couple of third downs there I made some bad calls on offence and it put us behind the eight ball and we fell down two scores.”
PETERSON GETS 25
Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson grabbed his 25th career interception in the first quarter, saving a potential touchdown when he leaped and grabbed Mayfield's pass in the end zone. It was the second interception of the season for the veteran, who missed the season's first six games after being suspended for violating the league's drug policy.
Cardinals: Arizona won despite being banged up at linebacker. Haason Reddick (groin) and Tanner Vallejo (ribs) both got hurt during the second half and didn't return.
Browns: return home to face the Ravens on Sunday.
Cardinals: travel to face the Seahawks on Sunday.
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