I so had another post ready to go because the Cardinals did everything but actually lose the game on the way to doing everything they could to lose this game.
The Cardinals of NFL past came to haunt University of Phoenix Stadium as the Cardinals continually made mistake after mistake, giving the Dallas Cowboys every chance to win this game that had about as many wild things happen as most teams see in an entire season. However, the Cardinals did finally prevail, in overtime, defeating the Cowboys 30-24.
Of course with as wild as this game was, it had to have a little NFL history being made in the process. This marked the first time a game ended in overtime on a return of a blocked punt. Only the Cardinals.
The game couldn’t have started out any better. J.J. Arrington returned the opening kickoff 93 yards and it was 7-0 Cardinals before half the crowd had even made it to their seats. That was the last scoring the Cardinals would see for the first half. After fumbling the ball twice and a Kurt Warner interception, the Cardinals looked like they would allow Dallas to take over this game and take the crowd out of it fast. That never happened. The Cardinals defense played well in the first half for the most part. With the exception of two big plays in the game overall, the defense was able to put pressure on Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo all day.
The Cardinals also were not helped with some poor officiating, again. Tony Romo was called in the grasp and his forward progress stopped when he fumbled in the first quarter. Replays clearly show that was not the case, however per NFL rules, since the whistle had blown, the fumble could not be challenged. In the second quarter, it appeared that Tony Romo had fumbled the ball in the end zone and the Cardinals had recovered for a touchdown. Again, apparently not the case. The officials ruled that Romo was in the act of passing. No he wasn’t. He clearly had attempted to bring the ball back in to abort the throw. I understand why the call was made though. So, the touchdown was taken off the board after a successful Dallas challenge. In the 3rd quarter, another Cardinals touchdown was taken off the board when it was ruled Larry Fitzgerald had not gotten his second foot in bounds on a great catch. That was a little closer of a call to make, but it still appeared, at least to me, that he got both feet in. I wasn’t so disappointed with that call though as it was still 2nd and 1 at the 4. Two plays later, they ran the same play and the Cards scored.
The Cards continued their sloppy play with too many penalties. They also continued to shoot themselves with the sloppy tackling, as evidenced on the Marion Barber touchdown run with two minutes to go. Then the offense couldn’t muster a first down and allowed Dallas to get the ball back with 50 seconds left and no timeouts. Dallas was able to march to the 40 yard line of the Cardinals, then it happened again. Travis LaBoy couldn’t get off the field in time and was called for offsides, giving the Cowboys a shot at a field goal from the 35 instead. As if that wasn’t bad enough, then the Cardinals blocked the field goal attempt, only coach Ken Whisenhunt called timeout before the play. The second attempt was good and sent the game to overtime.
Then the punt block by Sean Morey and recovery by Monty Beisel for the winning touchdown put the icing on top of what was the wildest game I’d seen in a long time. I knew this would be a close game, but little did I believe that special teams would be the deciding factor. Dallas most definitely has the talent to be very successful, but they, like the Cardinals, didn’t play well offensively in the first half. Romo sputtered and Warner matched him error for error.
The Cards remain all alone in first place. The Rams won their first game, but Seahawks and 49ers both lost. The Cards are off next week with their bye. Sounds like a good time to get healthy to me before they head to Carolina in two weeks.