2021 ESPY Play of the Year: Winner, Acceptance Speech and Twitter Reaction

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2021

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 15: Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals catches the game-winning touchdown pass as safety Jordan Poyer #21 and safety Micah Hyde #23 of the Buffalo Bills defend during the final seconds of the fourth quarter at State Farm Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The "Hail Murray" will now forever be immortalized in ESPYs lore.

Kyler Murray's game-winning heave to DeAndre Hopkins to lift the Arizona Cardinals to a victory over the Buffalo Bills was honored as the Best Play during the 2021 ESPY Awards on Saturday night.

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

The <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPYS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ESPYS</a> winner for Best Play:<br><br>That unforgettable Kyler Murray Hail Mary to DeAndre Hopkins 🔥 <a href="https://twitter.com/AZCardinals?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AZCardinals</a> <a href="https://t.co/WHyfhVw0AP">pic.twitter.com/WHyfhVw0AP</a>

Hopkins' improbable grab was also the Play of the Year for the NFL.

The Cardinals were involved in another Best Play finalist, D.K. Metcalf's incredible tackle to deny Budda Baker a pick-six.

Perhaps it's worth revisiting Murray's desperation throw to Hopkins in the end zone:

Arizona Cardinals @AZCardinals

HOP CAUGHT IT!!!!!!!! <a href="https://t.co/lyAG9gWYPn">pic.twitter.com/lyAG9gWYPn</a>

The Hail Mary isn't that uncommon in the NFL. Murray's ability to elude the pressure and release the ball on point while his momentum took him out of bounds was what set this apart.

Mike Jurecki @mikejurecki

After the play was it a better throw or catch? there wasn’t a right or wrong answer. Murray being flushed out of the pocket throwing against his body close to the sidelines, the difficulty to make the throw and an improbable catch by Hopkins. <a href="https://t.co/j8SvVMkdUn">https://t.co/j8SvVMkdUn</a> <a href="https://t.co/Ut1QUWKJnH">pic.twitter.com/Ut1QUWKJnH</a>

Alex Clancy @ClancysCorner

Kyler when the Hail Murray wins the ESPY for best play of 2020: <a href="https://t.co/bYUxcG164X">pic.twitter.com/bYUxcG164X</a>

Going off the NFL's Next Gen Stats, the likelihood of Murray hitting the target was only 16.9 percent. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport noted those was the third-lowest odds on a completed pass in Murray's young career.

Much like that fateful November evening, Hopkins sealed the deal at the ESPYs.

Kyler Murray @K1

Hold it down for us tonight.. <a href="https://twitter.com/DeAndreHopkins?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DeAndreHopkins</a>

Hopkins and Murray figure to form a dynamic connection once again in 2021. The star wideout caught 115 passes for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns in his first year with the team, and he might benefit from the presence of A.J. Green and Rondale Moore since they'll inevitably occupy the defense's attention.

This time next year, the state of Arizona might be celebrating another Best Play ESPY, too.

Deandre Ayton's alley-oop to beat the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals came after ESPN rolled out all 16 nominees for Best Play. Surely the "Valley Oop" will take its place among the contenders in 2022.