Cardinals make kick save, turn back Cowboys
GLENDALE, Ariz. — John Skelton and Stephen McGee, third-string quarterbacks when the season began, had lead parts in a Christmas night drama staged by a pair of NFL teams headed nowhere.
Jay Feely’s 48-yard field goal inched over the crossbar with five seconds to play, giving the Arizona Cardinals a 27-26 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
“Really, nothing’s bigger than beating the Dallas Cowboys on Christmas Day right now,’’ said Skelton, the Cardinals’ rookie. “Whiz [coach Ken Whisenhunt] was shaking my hand before the game and I said, ‘We have one last gift to unwrap.’ Sure enough, it took the last minute, but we got it.’’
Dallas (5-10) rallied from 18 points down to take a 26-24 lead when Stephen McGee, in his first NFL game, threw 45 yards to Miles Austin for a touchdown with 1:46 to play. But David Buehler’s extra point went wide left.
Arizona (5-10) was in deep trouble after the kickoff, but Skelton, on fourth and 15 from the Cardinals’ 19, threw 26 yards to fellow rookie Max Komar. Then the Cardinals slipped into Feely’s range. Feely, who had a 49-yarder earlier, has missed three kicks all season, including a 49-yard attempt last night.
Dallas fell behind 14-0 when Jon Kitna had interceptions returned for touchdowns on the Cowboys’ first two possessions. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned the first 32 yards, and Greg Toler the second 66.
Under clear skies, with at least half the capacity crowd cheering for Dallas, the Cardinals took a 21-3 lead. Skelton, in his third NFL start, connected with wide-open rookie Andre Roberts on a 74-yard play for the quarterback’s first NFL touchdown pass.
Kitna, the starter since Tony Romo went down with a broken collarbone, got Dallas in the end zone before halftime. The 38-year-old quarterback scrambled 7 yards up the middle to the Arizona 2-yard line, and threw to Jason Witten for the score on fourth down.
Kitna left the field and immediately went to the locker room with a hip injury and didn’t play again, watching from the sideline wearing a baseball cap.
McGee, a fourth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M in 2009, smoothly stepped in, repeatedly connecting on third-down passes. He finished 11 of 17 for 111 yards with no interceptions.
Feely’s 49-yarder boosted the lead to 24-20, forcing the Cowboys to go for a touchdown.
They got it on a perfect pass by McGee onto Austin’s fingertips. The best Arizona could hope for was overtime, everyone thought — then Buehler missed a conversion kick for the second time in 40 tries.