Comeback Cards: Cards Earn Fourth Straight Victory 20-17 in OT Over The Browns
The Cardinals have been trailing at halftime in all seven of their victories this season. That is an amazing statistic which is symbolic of their unbelievable late season surge, a current stretch in which they’ve gone from 1-6 and in the hunt for the worst record in the NFL to 7-7 with a shot at a playoff berth.
They pulled off their sixth win in seven games and their fourth straight win overall (haven’t done that since 1999) in trademark Cardinals heart-pounding fashion this afternoon outlasting the Cleveland Browns 20-17 in overtime.
The Carrdinals got off to a slow start much like did in their three previous home victories. The Browns (one of the NFL’s worst offenses) only needed three minutes and seven plays to drive down the field and take a 7-0 lead to start the game, Hillis did a number on the Cardinals on the drive carrying the ball five times for 35 yards and a touchdown.
The Browns would add to their lead with a 15-play, seven minute drive, that culminated with a 44-yard Phil Dawson field goal to give the Browns a 10-0 2nd quarter lead.
Skelton finally decided to heat up late in the first half as he lead the Cardinals 65 yards down the field in the final two minutes on a nine-play drive that ended with a nine-yard strike in the back of the end zone from Skelton to Roberts to make it a 10-7 game at the half.
After each team had a few possessions in the second half where they could generate little offense, the Browns broke through on a 3rd and 8 from their own 24-yard line Seneca Wallace evaded the pass rush and bought himself enough time to find a wide-open Greg Little down the field for a 76-yard touchdown to give the Browns a 17-7 lead late in the 3rd quarter. (Keeping pace with a fast, young receiver in single coverage was too tall of a task for a linebacker to handle, even Daryl Washington).
Wallace used his quick feet and ability to elongate plays to terrorize the Cardinals defense the first three quarters of the game.
Then after a long return by Stephens-Howling (and a facemask penalty) the Cardinals used their good field position to get down to the Browns 29-yard line before Skelton was picked off by Browns corner Brandon Skrine late in the third quarter.
At this point many watching (myself included) thought the Cardinals magic may be over as the Browns had the ball with a hot quarterback and a 10-point lead late in the third quarter. Once again we were wrong; these resilient Cardinals were far from defeated.
The Cardinals would stop the Browns and on the ensuing drive Skelton would lead the Cardinals 87 yards down the field for a touchdown to cut the Browns lead to 17-14 with 8:33 remaining.
Skelton was six of seven for 89 yards on the drive (he got sacked on the second play of the drive) and Beanie Wells capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
On the next possession the Cardinals (or should I say O’Brien Schofield) finally got to Seneca Wallace, as they sacked him on two straight plays. The second of which Wallace lost possession of the ball around his own 5-yard line which was recovered and run in for a touchdown by Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell. Wallace was ruled downon the play initially, but was overturned after a Cardinals challenge.
Because the whistle was blown before Campbell got in the endzone, the Cardinals weren’t given a touchdown but instead got the ball at the Browns 5-yard line with a chance to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter.
After three ugly plays in which the Cardinals lost 10 yards, Feely kicked a 33-yard field goal to tie the game 17-17 with 5:40 remaining.
The Cardinals would get the ball again and were on the cusp of field goal range for the win late in the game, but were stopped short on a 3rd and 2 from the Browns 42-yard line.
The game was headed to overtime for the third time in the last four Cardinals home games.
The Browns got the ball first in the extra period, managing one first down on a Seneca Wallace scramble before having to punt the ball back to the Cardinals.
The Browns then broke a Cardinal rule; don’t punt the ball to Patrick Peterson.
Peterson returned a 38-yard punt 32 yards down the sideline to put the Cardinals at the Browns 40 to start their first possession of overtime.
Three plays later on a 3rd and 6 from the Browns 36-yard line Skelton found a wide open Larry Fitzgerald for a 32-yard gain down to the Browns 4. (How does that happen??)
Feely then trotted out on the field for the 22-yard game-winning field goal to lift the Cardinals back to 500.
Yet another amazing comeback in an increasingly memorable and wacky season.
Skelton finished the game with 300 yards and a touchdown, after another slow start. I never cease to be amazed and surprised by his ineptitude early in games as well as his incredible heroics late in games. Say what you want to say about the guy but he is 5-1 this year as a starter and deserves have the starting job the last few weeks of this season regardless of Kevin Kolb’s health.
The Cardinals are still alive for a wildcard spot this season. In order for them to make the playoffs they must win their last two games of the season over the Bengals and the Seahawks, the Bears must lose one of their last two and either the Lions or Falcons must lose their final two games.
Their chances may be slim, but with all the magic we’ve seen out of the Cardinals lately who knows what could happen.
Stats courtesy of NFL.com
Photo courtesy of azcentral.com