Spring 2021 Magazine

Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins catches miraculous game-winning Hail Mary while leaning on faith in God

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins left the sports world in awe with one miraculous, game-winning Hail Mary catch on Sunday afternoon to beat the Buffalo Bills, 32-30.

Hopkins’ leaping 43-yard snag over the outstretched arms of three Bills defensive backs was his team’s most important play of the year and may be one of the best highlights of the 2020 NFL season.

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“The play was designed for me to get out left,” Arizona’s second-year quarterback and thrower of the Hail Mary, Kyler Murray, told Sports Illustrated. “They had a guy containing, had to make him miss. And then, as funny as it sounds, I felt like — the only person I saw down there was [Hopkins]. Let it go, give him a chance and it’s funny, everybody, all they saw was black gloves rising from everybody. It was a group of four people and all they saw was black gloves, so I’m just glad he caught the ball.”

Hopkins’ heroics gave Arizona its sixth win of the season and brought them into a three-way tie with the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks for first place in the NFC West. For the game, he had 127 yards on seven receptions and his one breathtaking touchdown.

Arizona’s newly acquired star wide receiver came to the Cardinals last March in a trade with the Houston Texans for running back David Johnson. In his seven seasons in Houston before the trade, the Clemson alum and former first-round pick earned four trips to the Pro Bowl, three first-team All-Pro selections and a designation as one of the best wide receivers in the league.

Hopkins’ presence in the locker room and on the field is already paying dividends for Murray and the rest of a Cardinals team that finished last year 5-10-1.

Hopkins has often made catches over football’s best defensive backs look easy throughout his career, but his path to the NFL did not come without its hardships. He lost his father in a car accident when he was just a few months old, and his mother, Sabrina Greenlee, was effectively blinded when he was 10.

“My whole life was tough growing up,” Hopkins told Athletes in Action before the 2018 season. “We all have obstacles to overcome. It seemed for me that growing up in Section 8 housing as a young Black man was really tough.”

In the midst of the outside struggles, his mother ensured he went to church and learned to lean on God.

“My faith is a big, big thing for me,” Hopkins said. “It is a major part of my life, and my mom made sure I knew about God.”

One day after practice at Clemson in 2012, Hopkins decided to make a public declaration of his faith by undergoing the sacrament of baptism.

And even after entering the NFL, Hopkins receives a prayer from his mother before every game.

“No matter how hard life can get, you can never give up,” he said. “Just work hard, live right, and have faith in the Lord.”

Hopkins and the Cardinals only have three days of rest before they are back on the field in a road game against NFC West-rival Seattle on Thursday at 8:20 p.m. ET.

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