The Arizona Cardinals remained quiet through the first three quarters of their Week 16 game against the hometown Cincinnati Bengals. The Arizona offense was nonexistent and looked completely lost through the bulk of the game before waking up in a big way in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the offensive explosion came too late and fell short, as the Cardinals lost by a final score of 23-16.
Andy Dalton and the Bengals completely owned the first three quarters. Dalton threw a touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham in the first quarter. Gresham made a terrific catch to stay in bounds, but had his play dwarfed and then some by Jerome Simpson in the second quarter, who made a front flip over a Cardinals defender to finish up a touchdown catch in what was easily the play of the year. Cedric Benson also picked up over 50 rushing yards to push him over 1,000 rushing yards in the 2011 season.
Arizona quarterback John Skelton, who had been sacked five times and thrown three interceptions before the fourth quarter, tossed two touchdown passes within five minutes. First a 30-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald to get the Cardinals on the board, followed by a 2-yard pass to Jeff King. The Cardinals failed the two-point conversion but had closed the gap to 23-13. Skelton was able to get the Arizona squad back to the red zone with just over 3:00 left to play in the game, but the Cards failed to convert on 3rd and goal and were forced to settle for a short field goal to bring them within a touchdown.
The Cardinals were able to halt the Bengals and force a punt, which had them beginning a drive at the 40 yard line with 0:48 left to play. Skelton and his receivers attempted to put together a last-minute drive, but were out of time outs and ran out of time. With the loss, the Cardinals fall back to 7-8 and have seen their playoff hopes slip away.