One of the most remarkable plays of this NFL season so far came from the Arizona Cardinals-Dallas Cowboys game Sunday, when a fake punt from the Cardinals led to an amazing catch from Arizona running back Jonathan Ward. The fake punt, carried out on fourth and two in the second quarter with the Cardinals up 3-0, saw a direct snap to safety Chris Banjo, who then threw a pass to Ward despite heavy coverage from cornerback Nahshon Wright. And that coverage even led to a pass interference call. However, that penalty was declined, as Ward still managed to make the catch, pinning the ball against Wright’s helmet:
Catch. Of. The. Year. 😳 pic.twitter.com/Y5zw0c0FQR
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) January 2, 2022
Fox analyst Troy Aikman says at the end of the clip, “That’s the David Tyree helmet catch right there.” And there are definitely some similarities to that famed catch from 2008’s Super Bowl XLII. However, Tyree pinned that ball against his own helmet; pinning it against the helmet of a defender who’s committing pass interference on you is perhaps even a higher level of difficulty.
This was an incredible catch by Ward, and it helped set up a one-yard touchdown pass from Kyler Murray to receiver Antoine Wesley (which also came on a fourth-down gamble, albeit a fourth and one). And this fake punt call certainly paid off. It’s part of what led the Cardinals to a 13-7 halftime lead, and to a 25-22 win in the end. And this grab from Ward, one of this season’s best catches, was an important part of that.