The once smooth road has gotten bumpy for the Arizona Cardinals.
Following a surprising 4-0 start the Cards dropped their second straight, falling to the Buffalo Bills 19-16 in overtime Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The loss snapped their 8-game home win streak.
“[It’s] disappointing after going through everything we went through in that game,” head coach Ken Whisenhunt said after the game. “So many missed plays, dropped balls, opportunities to make plays and didn’t make them.”
The Bills (3-3) offensive woes continued early when Daryl Washington forced a Fred Jackson fumble which William Gay scooped up at the Buffalo 31. Three plays netted two yards and Arizona (4-2) settled for a 49-yard Jay Feely field goal for a quick 3-0 lead.
The Cards offense returned the favor following a Shawn Powell punt deep inside Arizona territory the Bills collapsed the pocket and Chris Kelsay corralled Kevin Kolb in the end zone for a safety pulling Buffalo within a point.
The Bills took the lead on the following possession. Getting the ball around midfield following the free kick, former Gilbert Highland star Ryan Fitzpatrick picked apart the Cards secondary leading to a pretty CJ Spiller 10-yard run making it 9-7 following the PAT.
The Arizona offense managed just 14 yards of total offense in the first quarter.
Stagnant most of the first half, the Cards offense got untracked midway through the second quarter behind some clutch throws from Kolb and nifty running by William Powell. Kolb capped the 10-play, 67-yard drive when Larry Fitzgerald snagged a 9-yard touchdown to put the Red Birds back on top 10-9.
The Cards failed to capitalize after Rashad Johnson’s 24-yard run inside Bills territory on a fake punt on 4th and one and led by a point going into the half.
Following another Feely field goal, Buffalo struck back taking the lead with a 5-play, 80-yard drive capped by a Jackson one-yard plunge on first and goal. The big play was a pretty 33-yard Spiller dash inside the Cardinals 20 two plays before the touchdown.
The Buffalo defense stepped up in the fourth quarterback as safety Jairus Byrd stepped in front of a Kolb pass in Bills territory and thwarted a possible game-tying or go-ahead drive after the Cards offense had flipped field position.
Moments later the Red Birds defense answered the call when Patrick Peterson picked off an overthrown pass from ‘Wildcat’ quarterback Brad Smith in Cardinals end zone with just over three minutes to play.
That’s when things started getting crazy.
Kolb marched the offense down the field before leaving the game with a chest/rib injury. Back-up John Skelton, pressed into action for the fist time since the season opener against Seattle, struggled and the drive stalled at the Buffalo 43.
With just over a minute to play Feely connected on an improbable 61-yard field goal to tie the game at 16.
“He told me he could make it,” Whisenhunt explained. “I thought our best option was for him to kick it the way he was feeling.”
The Bills quickly went three and out and following a 20-yard completion to Fitzgerald, Skelton quickly spiked the ball at the Bills 20 setting up Feely. This time the attempt was tipped by Alex Carrington and bounced off the upright forcing overtime. It was Feely’s first blocked kick since 2006.
“They got a little push and got a hand on it,” Feely explained. “I hit it well. Unfortunately it came at a bad time.”
After winning the toss and moving the ball past midfield the Bills were forced to punt. On third and ten from the Arizona 20 Skelton’s pass was intercepted by Byrd who returned it to the Cardinals six.
Two plays later Ryan Lindell kicked the game-winner from 25 yards out.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been at home and not won,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t come out and protect home field. That’s bothering me right now.”