The penalty flag was thrown, and suddenly, I thought of Leonard Davis. No, not because big Len was on the other sideline for the Cowboys. Because I remember a sweaty September day at Sun Devil Stadium in 2005, when the Cards had reached the Rams’ 5-yard line down five points in the waning seconds. A comeback win was within reach – except Davis was called for a false start with seven seconds left. The Cards had no timeouts left, and by rule, that meant a 10-second runoff. It meant a very difficult way to lose a chance to win.
So that’s what I was thinking when the flag came out Saturday night, when the Cards had finally made it to the Dallas 25-yard line down two points. A spike, a penalty, oh God. I wasn’t the only one. Players were headed to the locker room, for goodness sake.
QB John Skelton said he didn’t know what was going on, deferring to center Lyle Sendlein, who was already barking at the officials. Sendlein said he didn’t have anything to offer other than insist there were more than the 10 seconds that were displayed on the stadium clock. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he was planning to argue the same.
You can’t hear anything down on the field, although I did hear “10-second runoff.” Turns out all the ref was saying was that there would not be a runoff. Since all the players were set on the illegal formation (and not, in Davis’ long-ago case, a false start) it just cost the Cards five yards. The runoff is to prevent a team from having a penalty in order to stop the clock. Since the Cards did pull off a proper spike – again, with everyone set, even if they weren’t in the right spots – it didn’t cost them time.
And for Jay Feely, what’s another five yards?
— Holder Ben Graham did a great job pulling down a slightly high snap on the game-winning field goal.
— If you would’ve told me the Cards would win when Larry Fitzgerald would have one catch and Steve Breaston none, I’d have laughed. Fitz insisted he wasn’t frustrated. Hmmm. I am going to guess he was trying to be nice when he said that. That said, I know he was thrilled to get the win and the frustration eased considerably when Feely’s field goal split the uprights.
— Watching the replay of the game right now, the most amazing part of Fitz’s late catch is that he was drilled – helmet to helmet? – on a first-down incompletion three plays earlier and cameras caught Fitz blinking his eyes and shaking his head, as if to clear cobwebs.
— In terms of Breaston, a very odd situation. I thought there was a chance he was hurt at some point, enough so that they limited his snaps. But no. Whisenhunt said he used rookie Andre Roberts more because of blocking schemes and “we try to spell (Breaston)” more, but again, it was odd to see Breaston on the sideline and Roberts in. Roberts had a very good game, but again, just struck me as odd. The free-agent-to-be didn’t have one pass thrown his way.
— The Cardinals had a season-high five sacks, getting a decent amount of pressure when they just rushed four. For a second straight game, they used a lot of four-down linemen. It was generally effective. I’m sure it was in part because Joey Porter was out and the team didn’t have a plethora of trustworthy linebackers for a 3-4 alignment, so they tinkered. But it worked.
— Here’s a stat I heard on the radio on the way home tonight: Since 2008, there had been 75 pass plays in the NFL on fourth down needing at least 15 yards for a first down. The number of conversions? Eight. Kinda glad John Skelton didn’t know that before throwing the dart to Fitz.
— I mentioned this a couple of times on Twitter, but given the grief running back Beanie Wells has gotten for his blocking, the excellent blitz pickup he provided on the 74-yard TD pass from Skelton to Roberts was key.
— That was the Cards’ ninth TD pass. They have nine non-offensive return TDs. The battle will go down to the final game.
— DRC and Greg Toler get Pick-6s. Amazing. It’s been simple this year really. Five wins – at St. Louis, Oakland, New Orleans, Denver, Dallas. Except for the Rams game, and in that one the defense forced a bunch of turnovers, the Cards win because of those return TDs.
That’s enough. It’s 1:30 a.m. I’ve outlasted Christmas. But what a Christmas for the Cards.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Beanie Wells, Ben Graham, Cowboys, DRC, Greg Toler, Jay Feely, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, Leonard Davis, Lyle Sendlein, Steve Breaston
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