Wrap-up: Cardinals 20, Browns 17 (OT)
December, 18, 2011
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 20-17 overtime victory over the Cleveland Browns at University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 15:
What it means: The Cardinals improved to 7-7 with an overtime victory that kept alive their playoff hopes. Arizona would have been eliminated from postseason contention had it lost because Detroit defeated Oakland. Patrick Peterson's 32-yard punt return in overtime proved pivotal as Arizona won for the sixth time in seven games following a 1-6 start to the season. A winning season remains a possibility for Arizona.
What I liked: Quarterback John Skelton led a touchdown drive right before halftime and again when the Cardinals switched to a no-huddle offense after falling behind 17-7 in the second half. Receiver Andre Roberts continued a strong run late in the season, catching the touchdown pass late in the first half. Second-year outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield collected sacks on back-to-back plays, forcing a turnover on the second one. That put the Cardinals in position to kick the tying field goal, erasing that 10-point deficit. A challenge from Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt changed O'Brien's second sack from a sack and incomplete to sack and forced fumble, with Arizona recovering at the Cleveland 5. This was a huge reversal for the Cardinals. Skelton set up the winning field goal by finding a wide-open Larry Fitzgerald for a 32-yard gain on third-and-6. Skelton finished with 313 yards passing.
What I didn't like: The Arizona defense, though improved in recent weeks, gave up a seven-play, 76-yard touchdown drive to open the game. Peyton Hillis ran effectively against the Cardinals on this drive. The Cardinals also had trouble containing Browns quarterback Seneca Wallace, who scrambled and found Greg Little open for a 76-yard touchdown. Penalties against Jeff King and Nick Eason in the return game forced Arizona to start two drives deep in their own territory. Poor red zone execution, specifically a botched shovel pass that led to a sack on first-and-goal from the 5, contributed to the Cardinals settling for the tying fourth-quarter field goal when a touchdown would have given them the lead.
Milestones: Beanie Wells scored his 10th rushing touchdown of the season. He joined Tim Hightower (2008) and Donny Anderson (1973) as the most recent Cardinals players to reach that mark. Tight end Todd Heap also passed a milestone, passing Hall of Famer and ex-St. Louis Cardinals Jackie Harris for 11th on the NFL's all-time list for receptions by tight ends.
What's next: The Cardinals visit the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16.