What another wild Sunday in the NFL. The Arizona Cardinals-Cleveland Browns game was no exception. The Cardinals, down 10-0 and 17-7 at one time came back to tie the game at 17 in the fourth quarter and then thanks to a Patrick Peterson 32-yard punt return and then John Skelton hooked up with Larry Fitzgerald on a 32-yard pass play to set up a Jay Feely 22-yard field goal for the 20-17 win in overtime. It was the tale of five games really. Give the first and third quarters to the Browns, give the second and fourth quarters plus overtime to the Cards. Once again, the Cards made some mistakes, but did just enough to win their sixth game out of the last seven. It is the first four-game win streak for the Cards since 1999.
The Browns started off early with a touchdown with the Cards defense looking half asleep. It was 7-0 before the blink of an eye. Browns running back Peyton Hillis looked like his old self today, rushing 26 times for 99 yards and a touchdown. The Cards stopped him when they had to late in the game though. With the exception of a couple of no huddle drives, the Cards offense was stagnant for the most part. Several drives appeared to be headed for gold, but stalled quickly after a few good plays.
The Cards didn’t get the offensive balance I called for earlier this week, deciding to only allow 15 carries for Beanie Wells. If you told me Wells was only going to carry 15 times and Skelton ended up throwing 46 passes, I would have told you without looking at a score that the Cards had lost. Not today. He found tight end Todd Heap as a close friend today. Heap had one of his best days as a Cardinal today, taking in seven receptions for 69 yards. It was nice to finally see him involved heavily. He also made a couple of nice blocks.
There were some good and bad things that happened today, but the best thing is despite a Detroit Lions last minute win, the Cards are still in the hunt for the playoffs. Here is the rest of the good and bad:
John Skelton – he found 10 different receivers, including Heap seven times. That shows he is looking around the field and not just throwing to the first guy he sees. He still made some errors, but overall played well enough not to lose again.
O’Brien Schofield – the second-year linebacker got two fourth quarter sacks. The man sees the field well. He made a nice back spin out of a block to catch Browns quarterback Seneca Wallace from behind for his first sack. The man has some speed too.
Jay Feely – forgive his early season miscues. The man has been money lately. With as many close games the Cards are in, it is important to have a clutch kicker. Game-winning 22 yarder today.
Cornerback Michael Adams getting burned for a 76-yarder from Wallace to Browns receiver Greg Little in the third quarter. The Cards were within inches of sacking Wallace and then to give up that bomb was inexcusable. It almost cost them the game. Thankfully there was a lot of time left at the time.
Game management – why was Wells not running the ball more down the stretch, especially with less than two minutes left? They had the opportunity on second and two to run the ball. They choose to throw it two more times and had to punt the ball back to the Browns with 1:10 left in the game. Amazing they still had another shot after using their timeouts on defense and getting the ball back with just under a minute left in regulation.
Still, you can’t complain with the result. Bottom line is they won. They are now 7-7 with still a playoff shot. Even if they don’t get in, they now have a shot at .500 or better to finish off the season, something that was only a pipe dream seven weeks ago at 1-6.