Monday, October 15, 2012
Buffalo beats Cardinals at their own wacky game
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- These are the games Arizona wins at home, with a frantic flourish at the finish to erase what seemed to be certain defeat.
This time, the Buffalo Bills turned the tables, and beat the Cardinals at their own wacky game.
The Bills' 19-16 overtime victory was a measure of redemption for a team reeling from two awful defeats. They reset their psyche by practicing in Arizona instead of returning home after a 45-3 debacle in San Francisco, and escaped with a wild one on Sunday.
"That was a huge relief," Bills offensive lineman Bryan Scott said. "The last two weeks, just to have those losses in your mouth, it hurts. You can't sleep at night. To get this win and to go back home and now Tennessee is up next. This was the start of something very positive."
The Cardinals (4-2) came oh so close to pulling out another improbable win. They had won eight in a row at home, five of them in overtime, and they had a chance to pull this one out thanks to the strong leg of Jay Feely, who kicked a franchise record 61-yard field goal to tie it 16-all with 1:09 left in the fourth quarter.
Then after a short Buffalo punt, John Skelton threw 28 yards to Larry Fitzgerald, and with 3 seconds to play, Feely lined up for a 38-yard field goal to win the game. Not only had Feely made it from 61 -- six yards farther than his previous best -- he'd also hit a pair of 49 yarders. Thirty-eight yards seemed like a gimme.
But Buffalo's 6-foot-5, 301-pound Alex Carrington got a hand on the attempt, knocking it off course just enough for the ball to careen off the left upright and send the game into overtime.
"You go from on top of the world to feeling about as low as you can feel," Feely said.
Jarius Byrd's second interception of the game set up Rian Lindell's game-winner 3:50 into overtime. Byrd, limited in practice last week with a chest injury, picked off John Skelton and returned it 29 yards to the Arizona 6.
"I don't think my heart can take much of that," said Buffalo defensive end Chris Kelsay, who sacked Kolb for a safety early in the game. "But it was a fun game. There was never any doubt in anyone's mind, I don't think, that we were going to lose that game, and it showed."
Lindell's short field goal sent the Bills (3-3) home a winner, easing the pain that came in blowout losses to New England and San Francisco, when Buffalo allowed a combined 1,201 yards and 97 points.
Skelton, active for the first time since spraining his left ankle in the season opener, entered the game late in the fourth quarter after Kevin Kolb went down with rib and chest injuries, the extent of which were not initially known.
Buffalo coach Chan Gailey endured extreme emotions, too, just the other way around.
"You don't think there is any way a guy is going to make a 61-yarder," Gailey said, "and then you think for sure he is going to make the short one and he doesn't."
The Cardinals lost their second in a row after a 4-0 start and are headed into a tough stretch with a game at Minnesota next Sunday, followed by a Monday night home game with Sam Francisco.
The Cardinals went into overtime for the sixth time in their last nine home games and had won all of them until Sunday.
It looked like another stunning Arizona comeback when Feely, whose previous long was 55, nailed the 61-yarder, the third 60-yard plus kick in the league this season -- an NFL record.
Skelton's fourth-down pass to Larry Fitzgerald got Arizona close enough to try the record kick, which cleared the crossbar with room to spare.
"He told me he could make it," Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "That's why we kicked it there on fourth-and-10. I thought our best option was for him to kick it with the way he was feeling."
The Bills then punted, and in an attempt to keep the ball away from Patrick Peterson, Shawn Powell's 30-yard kick went out of bounds at the Cardinals 47. Skelton's 28-yard pass to Fitzgerald set up the 38-yard try. But Feely, who earlier made two from 49, was thwarted by Carrington's tip.
"It was scary," Carrington said. "I thought it was still going to go in because the ball still kept on going but then hit the post. My heart dropped for a second."
The Bills took the overtime kickoff, advancing to the Arizona 35. Buffalo chose to punt rather than go for a long field goal. The ball nearly was downed at the 1, but was ruled a touchback, setting up the ball at the 20.
From there, Skelton's pass into traffic was intercepted by Byrd. Two plays later, Lindell had just his third field goal of the season -- and the Cardinals found out how it feels to be on the other side of one of these.
NOTES: Fitzgerald caught six passes for 93 yards, including a 9-yarder for a touchdown. In the process, he topped 10,000 yards receiving for his career. ... Mario Williams had two of Buffalo's five sacks after coming in with 1½. Buffalo safety Da'Norris Searcy left with an ankle injury early in the third quarter. ... Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes was carried off the field with a back injury with 5:41 to play in regulation. ... Kolb has been sacked 22 times in the last three games.
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