Patrick Peterson Lifts Arizona Cardinals over Rams with 99-Yard Punt Return

Cedric HopkinsContributor INovember 7, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 06:  Cornerback Patrick Peterson #21 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates after scoring the game winning touchdown on a punt return in overtime of the NFL game against the St. Louis Rams at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 19-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals punt returner Patrick Peterson electrified the sold-out University of Phoenix Stadium when he took a punt 99 yards for a touchdown in overtime to beat the St. Louis Rams 19-13.

Peterson broke four tackles on his way to score the game-winning touchdown and end the Cardinals' six-game free fall.

Perhaps, Peterson had a little more motivation than usual.

With 15 seconds remaining in regulation, Peterson allowed the Rams to get a fresh set of downs after he was flagged for pass interference on a Sam Bradford pass to newly-acquired wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. That play set up the potential game-winning field goal.

Everyone in the stadium braced for another last-second defeat as the Rams hiked the ball for the field goal. Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell wasn't having it.

Campbell stretched his 6'8" frame to bat Josh Brown's field goal attempt to the ground as time expired in regulation. So much for enduring another last-minute loss. 

Arizona was back in it.

St. Louis won the toss and elected to receive the ball first in overtime. The Cardinals didn't allow them to cross the 50-yard-line on their first possession in overtime. 

Then, the punt. 

Apparently, Rams punter Donnie Jones was not told to kick away from Peterson, even after Peterson's display of brilliance the week prior.

Perhaps Jones, an LSU product, wanted to kick to his fellow LSU alumni to see what Peterson could do with it.

Jones gave Peterson the chance, and Peterson used the whole field to show why he was considered by some to be the overall No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

Well, okay, he only used 99 yards.

You should watch Peterson's 99-yard punt return over and over again. From now on, I have a feeling that punters will receive the Devin Hester instructions when it comes to punting to Peterson. He may not get another chance all year.

Earlier in the week, I held out optimism for the Cardinals to get back into the NFC West hunt. It will be a game-by-game process, and the key factors will be strong defensive play by the front seven and help from a legitimate special teams.

This week, the Cardinals defense kept the Rams out of the end zone and forced Bradford to throw an interception, along with taking four sacks. Bradford's quarterback rating was a mediocre 73.3, and he saw consistent pressure from Arizona's front seven. A job well done.

As far as special teams, Peterson's punt return for a touchdown will get the most attention—and it should. But the team, as a whole, did a solid job keeping good field position all game. 

Good field position and getting pressure on the quarterback is an old fashion way to winning football games. The Cards will have to keep up that style of play when they travel to Philadelphia next week to take on Michael Vick and the Eagles