The Arizona Cardinals finished their season with another overtime win, their fourth of the season which sets an NFL record. They beat the Seattle Seahawks 23-20 to finish the season 8-8 which is a remarkable accomplishment after the 1-6 start to their year. Larry Fitzgerald was once again the star of the game, logging nine catches for 149 yards including a fantastic crucial grab in overtime to put the Cardinals in field goal range for the win.
The Cardinals got on the board early with an 81-yard touchdown drive on just their second possession of the game. It was the first touchdown for the Cardinals in the first quarter of a game since Week 2. The drive was highlighted by a 39-yard run from RB LaRod Stephens-Howling who started in place of the injured Beanie Wells. RB Chester Taylor completed the drive with a one-yard TD dive at the goal line.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said that it was his decision to hold Wells out of the game, "Beanie was made at me because Beanie wanted to play. He's been fighting, he's been a warrior all year playing on one leg and I just thought at this point it was in his best interest that he not play."
The Cardinals were only able to muster another three points in the first half but the defense did its job and gave Arizona a 10-3 lead at the half.
The field goal Arizona recorded came after rookie Patrick Peterson returned a punt 42 yards which set an NFL record for rookie punt return yards in a season. He was just barely brought down by the punter, or he would have set an NFL record with five punt return touchdowns on the season.
"I was kind of stumbling into the cut back anyway, so necessarily he (the punter) didn't get me down," Peterson joked.
The offenses for both teams opened up in the second half. The Seahawks went 74 yards on their first possession of the third quarter and scored on a 48-yard touchdown from RB Leon Washington. Seattle would score again in the fourth quarter on another big play to tie the game at 20-20 when Tavaris Jackson hit Ricardo Lockette for a 61-yard TD bomb against single coverage from backup CB Marshay Green.
John Skelton led the Cardinals on an eight-play, 80 yard drive finished off by Todd Heap's first touchdown on the season. Skelton also threw an interception early in the fourth quarter. It was Skelton's 14th INT in eight games and led to three additional points for the Seahawks.
Fitzgerald reported that Skelton had fainted before the game was questionable to play. "I don't know exactly what happened but I came in the training room and he was laying on the ground," Fitz said. "I was worried but he was able to bounce back and was great. It just shows you his toughness. He's a big, strong tough dude and he wasn't going to allow that to dictate the outcome of the day."
The Cardinals confirmed the incident and said that Skelton was having his knee drained before the game and felt light-headed when he got up from the training table.
With two minutes left on the clock and the game tied, the Cardinals were forced to punt. The Seahawks began their drive on their own 27 yard line but returned the ball to the Cardinals with very little time on the clock. The game headed into overtime with the Seahawks winning the coin toss. The Cardinals had no doubt they would win the game at that point.
Seattle started overtime with a 47-yard kickoff return to give them excellent field position but they managed to go no where and were forced to punt.
The Cardinals started their own overtime drive at their 19-yard line. Skelton completed a 26 yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald who made a great catch in double coverage across the middle. Needing only about seven yards to get into good field goal range, Coach Whisenhunt went for it on fourth and 1 and got the conversion on a QB sneak.
Larry Fitzgerald came up huge again with a one-handed snag on a slant route that went for 12 yards. A better thrown ball goes for a huge gain, but the play was enough to put the Cardinals in field goal range. A couple more rushes moved the ball even closer and Jay Feely ended the game with a 28-yard field goal.
The Cardinals put up 388 total yards in the 23-20 win. They turned the ball over twice and allowed 369 yards of Seattle offense. Larry Fitzgerald finished with nine catches for 149 yards with none bigger than the one-handed grab in overtime. John Skelton went 22-40 for 271 yards with two sacks, one pick and one TD.