Another week, another thrilling ending to an Arizona Cardinals game. The Cardinals came away with an electrifying 19-13 overtime win against the Dallas Cowboys when LaRod Stephens-Howling took a Kevin Kolb pass 52 yards for a touchdown.
Almost every week this year the Cardinals have either won or lost late in the fourth quarter or overtime. This week was no different. Too many times this year, Arizona had its head hanging as the final whistle signaled yet another loss. This week the Cardinals were able to be the ones holding their helmets in the air and celebrating in the locker room.
With this win, Arizona has shown it is a dominant team. Its record may not reflect it, but with the way it has come on in the second half of this season, it is a team to be reckoned with. The offense and defense are working hard to become a playoff contender for the 2012 season, and it's a goal well within their grasp.
The Cardinals came to play against the Cowboys, and there were seven aspects of the game that were key to their 19-13 victory over the Cowboys.
Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb played at a high level against a legitimate Dallas Cowboys defense. With the lack of protection the offensive line delivered, Kolb was still able to remain effective the entire game. He was consistently forced to move in the pocket and throw on the run. He did it well.
Perhaps the few weeks off did Kolb well. He was focused and displayed great leadership on the field. His final play in overtime, hooking up with LaRod Stephens-Howling for a 52-yard touchdown pass, embodied his performance in this game. He was just about to take a sack when he connected with the Hyphen. Great vision. That vision will be carried forward into next week and next season.
The Arizona Cardinals rallied in the second half. The Cards put up a total of 49 yards of offense in the first half, but they came out strong in the second half and didn’t relent until the final whistle in overtime.
Despite having a lackluster first couple of quarters, the Cardinals kept the fight inside them and came on strong in the second half. I've talked about the pride these guys play with each week, and there was no shortage of it against the Cowboys.
Per his usual, Beanie Wells did his part to deliver another notch in the win column. On his way to his sole touchdown, he knocked a couple Cowboys on their shorts. He has displayed that type of dominance all season, even with his bum knee.
While he didn't break any runs for a long gain, he kept the defense honest and provided the Cardinals with a few key runs to pick up first downs. Wells has proved he is one of the top every-down backs in the league.
Arizona defensive coordinator Ray Horton has developed this young defense into a sleeping giant. It never allowed the Cowboys to get into a rhythm offensively.
The matchups between the Cowboys receivers and the Cardinals cornerbacks were a thing of beauty. Laurent Robinson and A.J. Jefferson went back and forth all day with both getting the best of each other. Both of those players have come a long way in their play this season.
On the other side of the field, Dez Bryant and Patrick Peterson locked horns all game. While Bryant did manage a touchdown, Peterson didn’t allow him to go dominate the game. Peterson showed he will be a top corner in the league for years to come.
DeMarco Murray was wrapped up all day and couldn’t find any room to run. The Cardinals front seven kept the rising star to 3.2 yards per carry—not an easy feat. They also kept Tony Romo uncomfortable in the pocket, logging five sacks and several hurries.
While Jay Feely had been inconsistent in the weeks leading up to this matchup, he knocked down both of his field-goal attempts in a game where every point counted. Feely went 2-of-2 with a long of 48 yards.
The offensive line took to a new strategy this week: false starts. Along with giving up its usual five sacks, it also wanted to do its part to try to lose this game with a few false starts. The worst false start was when the Cardinals were on the 1-yard line on a 4th-and-goal. The Cards managed to eke out a win in overtime despite the resistance of the offensive line.
Besides center, each position along the offensive line needs to be re-evaluated during the offseason. This group is one of the worst in the entire NFL. Luckily, Kolb was behind center and was able to engineer a victory, no thanks to the Matadors.
Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey looks like he's celebrating in the picture to the left. In reality, he's balling his fist up for his head coach Jason Garrett.
With seven seconds remaining in regulation, Bailey lined up, kicked and made a 49-yard field goal. What he didn't know was that just before the snap, Garrett called a timeout.
On Bailey's next attempt, he missed it short and to the left. Cardinals fans need to send a group Christmas card to Garrett for that little gem.