GLENDALE, Ariz. — Traded Monday. Nearly a career high Thursday.
Not a bad week for Kenyan Drake.
The Arizona Cardinals running back didn’t need much time to find his footing in his new offense.
Drake ran for 110 yards — 10 short of his career best — and a touchdown on Thursday night in a 28-25 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, emerging as a bright spot for the Cardinals in what was an ultimately unsuccessful showing in front of a national TV audience. He ended up with 162 yards from scrimmage, which is tied for the most yards from scrimmage in a player’s first game with a team after playing for a different team earlier that season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Drake carried 15 times and averaged 7.3 yards per carry.
He set the pace on the game’s first play, when he broke free for a 36-yard run. From there, he was the only constant for an offense that gained less than 100 yards in the first half and had a hard time mustering yards or points after its first drives of the first and third quarters, respectively — except for an 88-yard touchdown pass from Kyler Murray to Andy Isabella with 4:53 left that added some brief doubt to the result.
Drake was used in a similar fashion to running backs David Johnson and Chase Edmonds — the Cardinals’ top two running backs who both missed Thursday’s game with injuries. Drake was run inside and outside, caught passes out of the backfield and lined up out wide at times. He finished with four catches for 52 yards. He also contributed a crucial 2-point conversion.
Getting traded to Arizona appeared to reinvigorate Drake.
In six games with the Miami Dolphins this season, Drake’s season high for rushing yards in a game was 44 and he did not score a rushing touchdown. He surpassed both marks in the first quarter.
His longest run this season in Miami was 11 yards. He blew past that on the first play of the game.
Buy on a breakout performance: Buy on Drake. He’s the real deal. He showed Thursday he’s a complete running back who fits in with Cardinals coach Kilff Kingsbury’s scheme in a variety of ways. What’s yet to be seen is whether Thursday night was an anomaly, possibly Drake playing on pure adrenaline after getting out of Miami. If he continues to play like he did Thursday night, the Cardinals might have a situation at running back when Johnson returns.
Troubling trend: The Cardinals’ inability to score consistently after the first drives of the first and third quarters. The Cardinals scored once in the first half, on the game’s opening drive, and then not again until their first drive of the third quarter. They were able to score another 11 points after the third-quarter score, but they were still down three late in the game. Another score in the first half would’ve changed that.
QB breakdown: Murray found his rhythm in the second half after throwing for 46 yards on 7-of-13 passing in the first two quarters. Murray had the game’s biggest play, an 88-yard touchdown pass to Isabella and the ensuing 2-point conversion to pull Arizona within three with 4:53 left. Murray finished with 241 yards and two touchdowns on 17-for-24 passing.
Pivotal play: With four seconds left in the second quarter, the 49ers faced a fourth-and-goal at the Cardinals’ 1-yard-line. They called a running play but Kingsbury called a timeout just before the ball was snapped, so the play was run. The Cardinals stuffed San Francisco at the goal line. Had the timeout not been called and the play stood, the Cardinals would’ve entered the half down 14-7. Instead, the Niners scored on the next play, took a 21-7 lead at halftime and made the Cardinals’ comeback all the more difficult.