The best play of the 2020 NFL season shouldn’t have happened.
Kyler Murray’s unbelievable Hail Mary completion to DeAndre Hopkins in Week 10 had such a low chance of success that it was statistically one of the most improbable completions of Murray’s young career.
Just how unlikely was Murray’s completion? That type of pass is successful only 16.9 percent of the time, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
According to @NextGenStats, #AZCardinals QB Kyler Murray’s Hail Murray TD pass to DeAndre Hopkins had a 16.9 percent completion probability, the 3rd-most improbable completion of Murray’s career. … Cannot believe two were more improbable.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 16, 2020
That’s ... probably obvious. Completing a Hail Mary is always going to be a low-percentage play. It requires skill, sure, but luck plays a role too. In Murray’s case, it helps that he was throwing to the best receiver in football. That probably gave Murray a better chance at completing the pass than that 16.9 percent figure suggests.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 16, 2020
Hail Mary wasn’t Kyler Murray’s most improbable completion
The most surprising part of the statistical breakdown is that Murray’s Hail Mary wasn’t the most improbable completion of his career. NFL Next Gen Stats says two of Murray’s completions have been more improbable.
The first was another long pass to Hopkins from Week 5. It can be viewed at the 9:14 mark below:
That’s quite the pass. Murray fit the ball between a tight window and hit Hopkins in stride for the touchdown. Is it more impressive or improbable than the Hail Mary? We’re not so sure.
The second completion comes from the team’s Week 15 game in 2019. It occurs at 5:45 in the video below:
That’s a nice precision touchdown pass to Dan Arnold, but we’re not sure it compares to the Hail Mary throw. It’s tough to ignore Hopkins beating three defenders to hang onto the ball. The fact that Hopkins’ Hail Mary catch also gave the Arizona Cardinals the 32-30 win makes that catch even more impressive.
Look, we’re not telling you anything you didn’t already know. Completing a Hail Mary isn’t easy or likely. Still, a look at the advanced stats highlights just how improbable it was that the pass was completed.
If anything, seeing the actual numbers makes both Murray’s pass and Hopkins’ catch even more impressive in our eyes. It takes a special type of talent to make the impossible possible.
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