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Cardinals get another hair-raising win over Dallas

Arizona Cardinals running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (36) rushes for the game-winning touchdown during overtime of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 19-13. Arizona Cardinals running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (36) rushes for the game-winning touchdown during overtime of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 19-13. (AP Photo/Matt York)
By Bob Baum
AP Sports Writer / December 5, 2011
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GLENDALE, Ariz.—Call it the cactus curse.

That's as good an explanation as any for the way the last three trips to the desert have gone for the Dallas Cowboys. Each was a loss. Each was in a painful fashion. Two of them were in overtime, the other on a last-second field goal.

Sunday was more of the same. After a series of mistakes and questionable decisions by the visitors, LaRod Stephens-Howling took a short pass from Kevin Kolb and scampered 52 yards for the touchdown that gave Arizona a 19-13 overtime victory.

Kolb, playing for the first time in five weeks, grew up in Texas. So did beating the Cowboys mean more to him than beating anyone else?

"Before today, that would be a no," he said, "but after today, absolutely. All my friends probably had Dallas jerseys on. They're die-hard, so I'll be happy to slap them in the face whenever I see them."

Kolb, who had been sidelined with a right turf toe and bruise on the side of the same foot, started out slowly, but got the offense rolling after halftime, completing 9 of 14 for 203 yards. The Cardinals won their fourth in five games, the second in overtime. The defense, special teams and running game were going so well the last month, Kolb minimized the expectations for his return.

"I came in here thinking `You don't have to do a whole lot, just deliver the ball and make the plays when they're there,' " he said. "I missed a few early. I'm just glad we were able to capitalize on them at the end."

Dallas probably would have won the game had coach Jason Garrett not called a timeout as Dan Bailey was about to attempt a game-winning 48-yard field goal at the end of regulation. He was kicking the ball when the referees blew the whistle.

"We just wanted to make sure that he had a real clean opportunity at it," Garrett explained. "It was at about 6 (seconds) and we were still getting settled in, so we banged a time out to give him the opportunity to get the snap, hold and kick as clean as possible."

The kick was good, but nullified by the timeout. Bailey lined up to do it again, and missed to the left.

"The first one, I felt like I hit it good. Obviously it went in," Bailey said. "We called the timeout, but that is my job to regroup and make the next one. I didn't do that. No excuses. I should have made it despite the circumstances."

Deadpanned Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, "I was glad they iced their kicker at the end so I didn't have to do it."

Andre Roberts caught six passes for a career-high 111 yards for the Cardinals.

"He is blossoming in front of your eyes is what he's doing," Whisenhunt said of his second-year receiver. "It was a great catch he made in that last drive."

After a holding penalty left Arizona in a second-and-19 situation, Dallas' Terence Newman was called for pass interference against Roberts. That gave the Cardinals a first down at their 34. Two plays later, Kolb threw 16 yards to Roberts to the Dallas 47. A false start moved it back to the Arizona 48. Then came the winning play.

Indecision also hurt the Cowboys.

Early in the game, Dallas had a third-and-2 at the Arizona 36. Tony Romo's pass to John Phillips was incomplete and Dallas went for it on fourth down -- well, almost. Romo overthrew Dez Bryant but, in a glimpse of things to come, the play was negated by a Cowboys timeout. Instead of going for it, maybe with a run play, Garrett opted for a 53-yard field goal try. Bailey missed, snapping a string of 26 straight made field goals that dated to Week 2.

There were plenty of other missed opportunities that couldn't be blamed on the coach.

The Cowboys were in Arizona territory six of the seven times they had the ball in the first half, yet led only 10-3 at the half.

"It is disappointing, but we still have everything we want in front of us," tight end Jason Witten said. "We have to stay positive, get better and play better football. We have to put ourselves in better situations throughout the game. We didn't play good enough to win."

Dallas (7-5) maintained a one-game lead in the NFC East because the second-place New York Giants lost to Green Bay. The Cowboys and Giants play next Sunday in Dallas.

Kolb completed 16 of 25 for 247 yards. Romo was 28 for 42 for 299 yards for the Cowboys.

Arizona beat a team with a winning record for the first time this season.

Each quarterback was sacked five times.

Kolb, out with turf toe and bruise on the side of his right foot since Oct. 30, was rusty early, but after halftime, he was 9 of 14 for 203 yards.

Bryant had eight catches for 86 yards, but DeMarco Murray managed just 38 yards on 12 carries.

The Cardinals had to punt from the end zone late in the game and Bryant returned it to the 22, but an illegal block in the back penalty against Orlando Scandrick pushed it back to the Dallas 40

"Of course I think it was a bad call," Bryant said.

As usual, there was a huge contingent of white-jerseyed Dallas fans, a fact apparent not only from the color of their apparel but from the loudness of the cheering when the Cowboys did something good.

They left disappointed -- again.

Notes: The roof at University of Phoenix Stadium was open for the second game in a row. ... Ten different players were credited for the game's 10 sacks. ... Dallas TE Martellus Bennett left with a rib injury in the third quarter.

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