Through the first eight games of the season, the 2-6 Arizona Cardinals can be called a lot of things, but you certainly can’t call them boring.
The latest nail-biter came Sunday afternoon in Glendale when rookie Patrick Peterson fielded a Donnie Jones punt inches from his own goal line and sprinted 99 yards for the game-winner, ending an otherwise listless game at University of Phoenix Stadium.
It was Peterson’s second punt return touchdown in as many weeks as the Cards snapped their six-game losing streak, beating the Rams (1-7) 19-13 in Glendale.
After the game, the rookie from LSU said he knew fielding the punt near his own goal line was high risk, high reward.
“I knew it was gutsy,” Peterson explained. “I decided to just catch the ball and run for my life.”
It was a fitting end to a game where the two teams combined for five field goals, two safeties and just one offensive touchdown.
With Kevin Kolb sitting out with turf toe, second-year quarterback John Skelton (20-35, 222 yards, no interceptions) brought the Cards back in the second half and tied the game at 13 with a 13-yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald midway through the fourth quarter.
The two teams then took turns punting before Sam Bradford engineered a last-minute drive and had St. Louis set up for their first road win before Calais Campbell blocked Josh Brown’s 42-yard field goal on the final play forcing overtime. Campbell also had six tackles and 1.5 sacks.
The Cards, who managed just 58 yards of total offense in the first half, relied on their defense to keep them in the game until they slowly found some consistency in the second half.
“The defense bailed us out time and time again,” Fitzgerald said. “You have to tip your hat to Coach (Ray) Horton and those guys.”
St. Louis out gained Arizona 383-262, but converted just 3-14 third downs and failed to put the game away with the Cardinals offense unable to move the ball.
“Just another boring game.” A hoarse Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt deadpanned. “It’s been a tough stretch…you have to win games like this to get on a roll.”
The Red Birds certainly took the first step Sunday.