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Arizona Cardinals Playoff Hopes Still Alive, Get 20-17 OT Win Over Cleveland Browns

The Arizona Cardinals continued with their habit of starting games slowly and finishing with flair. Patrick Peterson had a big punt return in overtime, John Skelton hit Larry Fitzgerald for a big pass in overtime and Jay Feely won the game with a 22-yard field goal in overtime to give the Arizona Cardinals a 20-17 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns. With the win the Cardinals evened their record to 7-7, keeping their playoff hopes alive. The win also marks the first four-game winning streak in the Ken Whisenhunt Era.

Arizona fell behind 10-0 in the first half, allowing Peyton Hillis to run the ball with authority. Arizona closed the gap to 10-7 just before halftime, as John Skelton ran the two-minute offense, taking the offense 65 yards in 1:30, hitting Andre Roberts for a nine-yard touchdown pass to bring the team within 10-7. 

After the half, a failed blitz by Michael Adams led to a big play. Adams blitzed the corner, but Cleveland starter Seneca Wallace used his athleticism to escape the rush. With Adams in the backfield, linebacker Daryl Washington was left to cover receiver Greg Little, who got behind him. Wallace hit him for a 76-yard touchdown pass, giving the Browns a 17-7 lead. 

On the ensuing drive, John Skelton was intercepted and it looked like the Cardinals' hopes would be dashed. However, the defense began to do its job and forced a punt. 

Arizona went 11 plays and 87 yards to score on a one-yard run by Beanie Wells, bringing the score to 17-14 with just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.

On the next drive were the biggest defensive plays. O'Brien Schofield sacked Wallace on second and on third down the ball came loose. It was ruled that it was not a fumble and Ken Whisenhunt challenged the ruling. All replays seemed to show that Wallace's arm was down before the ball came out, but apparently the elbow did not. The call was reversed and Arizona was given the ball at the Cleveland four-yard line.

That series was awful. They went backwards 10 yards before Jay Feely kicked a field goal to tie the game.

After one first down by Cleveland on the next drive, Arizona forced a punt and took over at their 11-yard line with a shot to have one of Skelton's patented comebacks. He drove them to the Cleveland 42 and on third down with only two yards to go, he could not connect with Early Doucet. Beanie Wells was not even in the game. They punted to Cleveland to play it safe and go for overtime or at best a shot at a Patrick Peterson punt return. 

The defense did its job as the Browns had some questionable play calls. They punted and Peterson was unable to do anything with the return. Skelton hit Andre Roberts for nine yards but had incomplete passes on second and third downs. Dave Zastudil's punt ended regulation.

Cleveland won the overtime toss, but was forced to punt after gaining one first down. 

That is where Patrick Peterson made his impact. He found some room and ran 32 yards to the Cleveland 40. After a pair of Beanie Wells runs, Larry Fitzgerald somehow found himself wide open deep and Skelton hit him for a 32-yard play down to the four-yard line. 

Feely came in and split the uprights on his 22-yard attempt and that ended it. 

It was Arizona's fourth straight win and sixth in seven games. It was also Skelton's fifth game-winning drive in his short career. 

For the game, Skelton was 28/46 for 313 yards, one TD and one pick. He was sacked four times. Beanie Wells did not quite reach the 1000 yard mark. He needed 57 coming in to the game. He rushed 15 times for 51 yards, but did score his 10th TD. 

Tight end Todd Heap had his best game of the season. He caught seven passes for 69 yards. Larry Fitzgerald was held to three catches and 69 yards, but he caught the ball that counted. 

Defensively, only Schofield logged sacks and he got the two on Wallace. 

For Cleveland, Seneca Wallace was 18/26 for 226 yards and a TD. Peyton Hillis rushed for 99 yards on 26 carries, but only had 48 yards on 17 carries after the first quarter. Greg Little had 136 yards receiving and a score on five catches. 

The win was Arizona's fourth straight and sixth in seven. Their playoff hopes are still alive, but with the victory by the Detroit Lions over the Oakland Raiders, Detroit will have to lose their final two games and Arizona must win their final two to get in, provided that the New York Giants win the NFC East. It could happen, but, like Arizona's season has had with their wins, they will need a little luck.

Make sure to head over to Revenge of the Birds for more reaction to the game.

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