The Cardiac Cardinals did it again!
The Arizona Cardinals overcame a 10-point deficit to tie up the score in regulation, and then went on to win another thrilling game in overtime, 20-17 against the Browns.
Here are eight observations about the game:
1) The first-half play by the Cardinals defense was average at best. The defensive line was pushed around pretty easily by the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line, creating some nice first down gains for the Browns running backs and giving Seneca Wallace enough time to complete his passes. The Browns did just enough to keep several drives alive, and take control of the game. Fortunately for the Cardinals, a football game consists of two halves.
2) I have said it before…I’ll say it again. John Skelton’s pocket presence is simply incredible for someone so young, and allowed him to make several passes down the stretch. The guy is fearless. I really liked how he handled the drive before the first half ended, and the fourth quarter drive where he utilized the no-huddle offense was beautiful to watch. He has been a superb replacement for Kevin Kolb, and although I wish he was more consistent with his passing accuracy, it’s hard to argue with his success.
3) The Cardinals only had two sacks (they came close to a sack several times), but boy, were those sacks important. They both came late in the fourth quarter where the Cardinals desperately needed a three and out, and the instigator in both cases was O’Brien Schofield. The second sack caused a fumble, which led to the Cardinals tying the score and sending the game into overtime.
4) Speaking of the fumble, I have been critical of the Cardinals coaching staff and its poor use of the challenge flag this year. But someone on the staff was smart enough to see that the original call of the ground hitting the ball and causing the fumble was incorrect, and convinced Coach Whisenhunt to throw the challenge flag. It was an important turn of events. (Too bad it was followed by a terrible offensive series and the Cardinals being forced to kick a field goal instead of scoring a go-ahead touchdown.)
5) Patrick Peterson saved his best for last, and it’s clear that if it weren’t for his long punt return, the Cardinals would probably not have scored the game winning field goal. The Browns successfully avoided Peterson being a factor all game–until their final punt, when Peterson once again displayed why he is such a potent weapon.
6) Welcome back, Todd Heap! The Cardinals tight end caught seven passes, a couple of which were very important in that they kept drives alive. He also was the decoy on the third and short play in overtime where Larry Fitzgerald caught a long pass from Skelton to set up the game winning field goal.
7) The Cardinals were called for only two penalties all game. They have steadily improved in this area of the game during their winning streak. They are really playing as a team.
8) I would be remiss if I did not give a shout-out to the fantastic Cardinals fans, who energized the defense in the fourth quarter with their cheering and their noise and gave the Cardinals the extra push they needed to win this game.