The Arizona Cardinals have life -- in the form of tiny wide receiver LaRod Stephens-Howling, who caught a screen pass from quarterback Kevin Kolb and took it 52 yards to paydirt for a 19-13 overtime win over obnoxious owner Jerry Jones and his Dallas Cowboys.
More than half of the University of Phoenix Stadium crowd was stunned, since 'Boys fans outnumbered Cardinals faithful, judging from the blue and white that seemed to be everywhere in the stands. But the Arizona fans made plenty of noise as Stephens-Howling twisted his way to the end zone (the 5-foot-7 sprite's pictured above crossing the finish line in this Cards website photo).
But what set up the overtime period was unbelievable. Literally. Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett inexplicably called a timeout just as his kicker had split the uprights with what would have been the winning field goal in regulation.
There was a re-kick, and Dan Bailey's foot wasn't what it was on the first try from 49 yards, and the kick fell short to the left.
Owner Jones appeared exasperated in his luxury box high atop the stands. We've got to wonder if Garrett's days are numbered after that boneheaded move.
Wideout Andre Roberts, who caught six passes from just-off-the-disabled-list Kolb for 111 yards, set up the winning play in overtime with a 16-yard reception.
As for Kolb, it was the first time we thought the Cardinals actually had picked the QB of the future in the offseason (Kolb was paid a fortune to come over from the Philadelphia Eagles, though he has been injured for much of his professional career). Kolb had a lousy first half, but he made up for it in the second, finishing with a 16-for-25, 247-yards, one-touchdown performance.
But it was in OT when he looked presidential: three for three for 83 yards. The only quarterback who bettered him under pressure Sunday was the cool-as-the-other-side-of-the-pillow Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, who drove his team downfield in the last minute of the fourth quarter to set up a game-winning field goal that gave the Pack a three-point victory and a 12-0 record.
The Cardinals are now 5-7, which isn't bad considering they lost six in a row before and after Kolb was injured. The Cowboys are 7-5 and still challenging the 6-6 New York Giants for the NFC East title, despite their loss to the Cards and the Giants' loss to Green Bay. They play the Giants, who proved their toughness yesterday against the best team in the league, two more times before the playoffs.
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Also looking spectacular was the Cardinals defense, which finally seems to be coming together. Rookie punt-return sensation Patrick Peterson only had one return yard yesterday, but he played his cornerback position to the hilt, knocking down a pass in the second half that probably would have set up a score for Dallas.
Though Dallas QB Tony Romo had almost the same good day as Kolb -- 28 for 42, 299 yards, and a TD -- he was sacked five times in the game. The Cardinals' D also held the 'Boys to 75 yards rushing.
The Cardinals have little-to-no playoff hopes this season. The 10-2 San Francisco 49ers, whom the Cards play Sunday, won the NFC West yesterday. After next week, Arizona plays the Cleveland Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Seattle Seahawks, all of whom they have a chance of beating if the defense and Kolb continue to progress.
Dare we dream of an 8-8 season?