|Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt call a play during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)|
Fitzgerald, Cardinals beat Seattle 23-20 in OT
GLENDALE, Ariz.—The Arizona Cardinals needed a little extra time to wrap up their season-ending victory. Then again, that's hardly anything new.
Larry Fitzgerald's spectacular one-handed grab set up a 28-yard field goal by Jay Feely to give Arizona a 23-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, the Cardinals' fourth overtime victory at home in the last nine weeks of the season.
Arizona (8-8) finished the season 7-2 after a six-game losing streak left it 1-6. Seattle (7-9) had rallied to tie the game after trailing 20-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 149 yards after one reception for 2 yards in the first half. John Skelton completed 22 of 40 for 271 yards and a touchdown with one interception for Arizona. Tarvaris Jackson was 21 of 35 for 222 yards and a touchdown with one pick for the Seahawks.
The Cardinals earlier had overtime victories over St. Louis, Dallas and Cleveland. The Seahawks finished with the same record as a year ago, when 7-9 was good enough to win the NFC West.
Arizona's Patrick Peterson, who made the Pro Bowl on special teams as a rookie, returned a punt 42 yards to set up a field goal, then blocked Steven Hauschka's 24-yard field goal attempt. It was the NFL-leading fifth blocked field goal for the Cardinals, two of them by Peterson.
Seattle won the toss heading into overtime, and Leon Washington's 47-yard kickoff return gave the Seahawks the ball at their own 40, but they failed to move it and had to punt.
Arizona's game-winning drive started at the 19. On third-and-3 at the 26, Skelton threw over the middle to Fitzgerald, who caught it between two defenders for a 26-yard gain to the Seahawks 48. Skelton's quarterback sneak on fourth and less than a yard gave Arizona a first down at the Seattle 37.
Arizona had it second-and-9 at the 36 when Skelton threw toward but not particularly close to Fitzgerald, who somehow gathered in the ball with one hand and cradled it as he fell to the ground. A review confirmed that it was a catch. LaRod Stephens-Howling, filling in for the injured Beanie Wells, rushed three times to the Seattle nine, and Feely's third field goal of the game gave the Cardinals the win.
Down 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, Seattle tied with a pair of big plays by two rookies, Richard Sherman and Lockette. First, Sherman stepped in front of intended receiver Andre Roberts for an interception that set up a chip shot field goal by Hauschka, then Jackson lofted the long pass to Lockette, who beat cornerback Marshay Green, and it was 20-20 with 7:47 remaining. Green had just been activated from the practice squad on Saturday.
After Washington's 48-yard touchdown run tied it at 10-10 with 10:56 to go in the third quarter, the Cardinals went 80 yards in eight plays. Skelton was 6 for 6 for 70 yards, capped by a 13-yard TD toss to Todd Heap, the tight end's first score in an injury-plagued first season with Arizona, putting the Cardinals up 17-10.
Skelton's 42-yard pass to Fitzgerald led to Feely's 43-yard field goal that boosted the lead to 20-10 12:18 to play.
Seattle responded, driving from its 20 to the Arizona 6. But the offense stalled, and Peterson broke free from the end to block the short field goal try.
Peterson, who had been slowed in practice all week by a strained Achilles tendon, nearly broke free for what would have been an NFL record fifth punt return for a touchdown. Instead, punter Jon Ryan tripped him up at the Seattle 31. Still, the 42-yard return set up Feely's 41-yard field goal that put Arizona up 10-3 with 3:28 left in the first half.
Wells was a surprise inactive. He had been listed as questionable but had played through the pain in his left knee through the season.
Kolb missed the final three games of his frustrating first season with Arizona because of a concussion, the result of a knee to the head on the Cardinals' third play of the game against San Francisco on Dec. 11. He missed four games earlier in the season with a right turf toe injury.
Arizona scored a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time since week two, going 81 yards in nine plays. Chester Taylor scored with a leap over the pile from the 1, the ball crossing the line just before he lost control of it. Stephens-Howling had a career-long 39-yard run in the drive.
The teams traded turnovers in the second quarter. Arizona rookie tight end Rob Housler fumbled near midfield and Seattle's K.J. Knight returned it 30 yards to the Cardinals 20. But after Arizona's third sack of the game, Jackson's toss over the middle was intercepted by Richard Marshall, who returned it 49 yards to the Seahawks 38. David Hawthorne's sack of John Skelton pushed Arizona out of field goal range.