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Cowboys Vs. Cardinals: Arizona Comes Back, Wins 27-26 On Christmas Night

(Sports Network) – Jay Feely’s 48-yard field goal with five seconds remaining lifted Arizona to a dramatic 27-26 comeback win over Dallas at University of Phoenix Stadium.

John Skelton completed 11-of-25 passes for 183 yards and his first career touchdown and directed the game-winning drive in the final moments to lead the Cardinals (5-10) to their second win in three games following a seven-game slide.

“Nothing’s bigger than beating the Dallas Cowboys on Christmas Day for me right now,” Skelton said. “Whis (Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt) was shaking my hand before the hand and I said ‘we have one last gift to unwrap.’ Sure enough it took the last minute, but it happened.”

Beanie Wells ran for 47 yards and Andre Roberts hauled in five passes for a career-high 110 yards and a touchdown for Arizona, which struggled offensively through most of the night but benefited from interception return touchdowns from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler.

Stephen McGee, taking over for the injured Jon Kitna, completed 11-of-17 throws for 111 yards in his first NFL game for the Cowboys (5-10), who have alternated losses and wins in their last five games.

Dallas overcame an 18-point deficit to take a 26-24 lead on a McGee 37-yard scoring pass to Miles Austin with 1:41 to play but David Buehler missed the ensuing extra point wide left, which turned out to be extremely costly.

Facing 4th-and-5 from the Cardinals 42 with 1:51 to play, McGee’s pass to Sam Hurd was incomplete, apparently sealing Dallas’ fate. However, Rodgers- Cromartie was called for pass interference to keep the drive going.

On the very next play, McGee lofted a pass down the right side that Rashad Johnson just missed intercepting and instead was caught by Austin inside the 10 before he took it the rest of the way to give the Cowboys their first lead of the night. Buehler then hooked his extra point try wide left leaving the visitors ahead by two.

Arizona was then facing a 4th-and-15 from its own 19 with 1:17 left when Skelton hooked up with Larry Fitzgerald for 26 yards to keep the game going. It would be his only catch of the night, ending a streak of 97 straight games with at least two receptions.

Skelton ran for five yards and hit Tim Hightower for six more and a first down and then spiked the ball to stop the clock with 25 ticks to go. The rookie out of Fordham then connected with Max Komar for 19 yards to the Dallas 25.

Another spike followed by an illegal formation penalty pushed the ball back to the 30 with 10 seconds to go, setting the stage for Feely’s decisive kick. There was no 10-second run-off, which would have ended the game, because the players were set at the line of scrimmage prior to the infraction being called.

Buehler banged through a career-long 53 yard field goal that shaved the hosts lead to 21-13 with 6:46 remaining in the third quarter.

After the Cardinals went 3-and-out, the Cowboys took over at the Arizona 47 and needed only six plays to score. Marion Barber covered the last 24 yards, dragging safety Adrian Wilson for the last five, for his fourth score of the season to bring the visitors to within one with two minutes left in the period.

Roberts made a leaping grab of a third-down pass from Skelton with eight minutes left in the game to pick up the Cardinals first first down since there were three minutes to go in the first half.

The march then stalled at the Dallas 32 bringing on Feely, who drilled a 49- yarder to make it a 24-20 contest with 3:45 to go.

The Cowboys’ second play from scrimmage was a short toss intended for Austin that was intercepted by Rodgers-Cromartie and returned 32 yards to pay dirt just 2:13 into the contest.

Dallas moved from its own 24 to the Cardinals 39 on its next possession before disaster struck again. Kitna’s pass intended for Roy Williams, but bounced off the receiver’s shoulder and was picked off by Toler, who took it 66 yards down the left sideline to give the Cardinals a 14-0 advantage with 8:24 to go in the first quarter.

Buehler’s 42-yard field goal got the Cowboys on the board 2:11 into the second quarter.

On the second offensive play on the ensuing series, Skelton found a wide open Roberts down the left sideline inside the Cowboys 40 and he sliced across the field to his right to go 74 yards untouched into the end zone to make it a 21-3 game only 52 seconds later.

Dallas responded on its next possession, covering 81 yards on 13 plays to move within 11 on a two-yard scoring toss from Kitna to Jason Witten on fourth down. Kitna did not return to the field after that drive, leaving with a hip- pointer injury.

“I thought we did a good job battling through the different injuries we had,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Stephen came in, and once he got himself comfortable I think he played better and better. We were able to run the ball effectively to take the pressure off him.”

Game Notes

Komar made three catches for 31 yards…Hightower carried six times for 23 yards…Kitna was 12-for-20 for 115 yards before leaving the game…Barber ran eight times for 58 yards while Felix Jones carried 16 times for 77 in defeat. McGee added 19 yards on four scrambles as the Cowboys outgained the Cardinals, 183-93, on the ground…Austin made six catches for 115 yards and is 21 yards shy of his second straight 1,000-yard season…Witten made eight grabs for 45 yards and leads all NFL tight ends with 90 catches and 956 yards…Each team recorded five sacks…Cromartie had his fourth career interception return for a TD, tying him with Antrel Rolle for third-place on the franchise’s all-time list…The Cardinals have 12 return TDs, one shy of the league record. Arizona has only nine touchdown passes and could become the first team since the 1977 Tampa Bay Buccaneers to have more return TDs than passing scores.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.