In Kevin Kolb's return after four weeks off, the Arizona Cardinals defense played very strong and hoped to continue their current run of good play. They did just that and the offense, led by Kolb, found their rhythm in the second half and beat the Dallas Cowboys 19-13 in overtime. The deciding score was a 52-yard screen play from Kevin Kolb to LaRod Stephens-Howling.
The game started slowly. The two teams traded punts in their first drives. Dallas had the first shot at scoring, but Dan Bailey had his consecutive field goals streak come to an end when he missed from 53 yards. Arizona responded by going 27 yards and getting a 48-yard kick by Jay Feely to take a 3-0 lead.
The score stayed the same until late in the second quarter, when Dan Bailey started a new streak, hitting a 50-yard field goal to tie the game. A three-and-out by the Arizona offense gave the ball back to Dallas quickly and Tony Romo hit Jason Witten and then Dez Bryant for a touchdown to give Dallas a 10-3 lead.
In the first half, it was a story of the Arizona defense holding strong while Kevin Kolb and the offense struggled to get a rhythm. They managed only 53 yards in the first half.
"It was fighting an uphill battle all day but our defense really kept us in the game and then our offense woke up in the second half," Ken Whisenhunt said.
The second half was a different story. The Cardinals offense marched the ball down the field to the one-yard line. On fourth and goal, the team was set to go for it, but a false start penalty by right tackle Brandon Keith pushed them back and Feely hit the field goal to make the cam 10-6.
Dallas answered responded with a 13-play drive of their own that led to another Bailey field goal.
Arizona answered yet again. In six plays, they drove 79 yards, led by a 40-yard pass play from Kevin Kolb to Andre Roberts. Beanie Wells scored the touchdown from four yards our to tie the game.
Both defenses clamped down and Arizona had a chance late in the game like so many other games with Kolb early in the season. Starting at their own five-yard line, they went three and out, but Early Doucet dropped a critical third down throw that hit him in the numbers that would have been a first down.
Dallas took over and with a big third down reception by Dez Bryant, were in position to win the game with a 49-yard Dan Bailey field goal. He kicked it and it was good, but Dallas coach Jason Garrett called time out and it took the points off the board. Bailey promptly missed the redo to send the game into overtime.
"We felt like the play clock was running down. We just wanted to make sure he had a real clean opportunity at it," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We were at about six seconds and we were still getting settled in, so we banged the timeout just to get an opportunity to snap well and get the kick as clean as possible."
The Cardinals won the toss and elected to receive. They took over at the 20-yard line.
Dallas never got the ball back. After the Cowboys were called for pass interference to give the Cardinals a first down, Beanie Wells, ran for three yards and Andre Roberts caught a 16-yard pass from Kolb. Levi Brown got called for a false start, but the next play ended it.
Kevin Kolb dropped back to pass and avoided a sack running to his left and hit LaRod Stephens-Howling on a screen pass that he took 52 yards for the winning score (video of the play).
"It was a great call by (offensive coordinator) Mike Miller. There at the end, we know Rex's (Ryan) style and personality. We talked on the sidelines to alert everybody that here comes the pressure. Mike dialed it up at hte right time. LaRod (Stephens-Howling) did a good job of feeling it bottle up because the pressure came up the middle and he just dialed it out wide. I tried to hold onto it as long as possible and give him enough room. That's what he does best, making people miss in the open field."
On the day, Kolb finished 16/25 for 247 yards and the score to LSH. Beanie Wells carried the ball 20 times for 67 yards and a score. Andre Roberts had a great day. He had six catches for 111 yards. Larry Fitzgerald, in a relatively quiet game, had four receptions for 55 yards.
The Arizona defense sacked Tony Romo five times. They also held rookie phenom DeMarco Murray to only 38 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Nobody turned the ball over.
For the Cowboys, Tony Romo passed for 299 yards and a score. Dez Bryant had eight catches for 86 yards.
With the win, Arizona improves to 5-7, while Dallas falls to 7-5. The Cardinals have now won four of their last five games and things are looking much better than at the start of the season.
Had they not started so poorly, they would be in the thick of things in the wild card race to the playoffs.