Twelve Cardinals-Cowboys Plays of Christmas
By Scott Allen
The Arizona Cardinals 27-26 win on Christmas night over the Dallas Cowboys was made possible by some great plays made by them and not so great plays by the Cowboys. I can quickly point to twelve plays though that shaped the outcome of the game.
1. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie 32-yard interception return for touchdown. Second Cowboys play of the game. The Cards were up 7-0 before the steaks were even done on the grill.
2. Greg Toler 66-yard interception return for touchdown about four and a half minutes later. Rodgers-Cromartie said after the game he had told Toler to go get his after he returned the first one and Toler listened. It was the first time in 11 years in the NFL there were two interception returns for touchdowns in the first quarter. New England was the last to do it. It was also the 12th return overall for touchdown this season for the Cards, which is one shy of the NFL record.
3. Cowboys quarterback Jon Kitna was sacked for a 6 yard loss by Clark Haggans on the drive ensuing the Toler TD. It kept the Cowboys from gaining any momentum back.
4. Cards quarterback John Skelton's 74-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts. Roberts caught it even as he was interfered with. It was certainly the longest pass play of the season for the Cards and of Skelton's and Roberts's career's.
5. Dallas had a 4th and 2 in the 2nd quarter and Adrian Wilson had a defensive offsides call against him that kept the Cowboys drive alive and ultimately ended with a 2 -yard pass from Kitna to Jason Witten.
6. Skelton fumbled the ball on a 3rd and 2 and was recovered by the speedy Steve Breaston at the 14. What that did though was give Dallas great field position after a Ben Graham punt and led to a Dallas 53-yard field goal and cut the lead to 21-13.
7. Cowboys running back Marion Barber scampered 24 yards for a touchdown on a very nice run. It put Dallas in prime position to attempt to tie the game with a two-point conversion, except the conversion never took place because Barber in all his excitement, took his helmet off in the end zone after popping up. It cost his team dearly and took them out of two-point range. They had to settle for an extra point and left them still down 21-20.
8. Cards kicker Jay Feely made up for an earlier missed 49-yard field goal, with a converted 49-yard field goal that would have been good from 60. That gave the Cardinals a 24-20 lead and would force the Cowboys to score a touchdown to take the lead.
9. Which is exactly what Dallas did. After Rodgers-Cromartie had a pass interference call go against him on 4th and 5 to keep the Cowboys drive alive, Cowboys quarterback Stephen McGee threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin with 1:41 to go in the game. After the touchdown, all Cowboys kicker David Buehler had to do was make the extra point. Clang! He knocked it against the upright and the ball fell harmlessly back to the football field. No good and Dallas hung onto a 26-24 lead.
10. The play of the game. John Skelton found an open Larry Fitzgerald for the first time of the game on a 26-yard pass on 4th and 15. It was Fitzgerald's only catch of the game, which broke a streak of 97 consecutive games in which he caught at least two or more passes.
11. Skelton hits Max Komar for 19 yards on 2nd and 10. Skelton then spikes the next snap. The Cards are called for an illegal formation, but no clock run-off.
12. Jay Feely. He hits a 48-yard field goal to give the Cards a 27-26 lead and then has an amazing kickoff even after being pushed back 15 yards due to a celebration penalty after the touchdown. The kickoff rolls to the goal line before being picked up and it keep the Cowboys from having any kind of kickoff return. Great ending!