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12-26-10: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings

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Hopefully the win by the Cardinals ended Christmas for everyone here on a high note. Time for some Sunday Morning Links.

Arizona Cardinals work some magic late against Dallas Cowboys
All season, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has lamented and preached that the difference between winning and losing in the NFL often was as simple as making a play. On Christmas night, it was the Cardinals who made one. A 26-yard pass from quarterback John Skelton to Larry Fitzgerald on fourth and 15 in the final minutes kept the Cardinals hopes alive, and kicker Jay Feely made a 48-yard field goal with five seconds left to give the Cardinals a 27-26 victory over the Cowboys.

Cowboys vs. Cardinals - Recap - December 25, 2010 - NFL - Football -
Third-string quarterbacks when the season began, John Skelton and Stephen McGee 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 5 seconds to play, giving the Arizona Cardinals a 27-26 victory over the Dallas Cowboys .

A Very Merry Christmas
Skelton drive, Feely field goal gives Cards dramatic 27-26 win over Cowboys

Arizona Cardinals' riveting Christmas Day victory comes at a cost
See the empty tin of Christmas cookies in the kitchen sink, the one weighing down your conscience? That's the story of the Cardinals' 27-26 victory over the Cowboys on Saturday night. The outcome was sweet. The game was crunchy and delicious. Too bad it's going to end up on their hips, slowing them down in the long term. Alas, it may have cost them a chance to draft Auburn's Cameron Newton, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald comes up big when it counts
Larry Fitzgerald didn't make a peep about not getting the football most of the night against the Dallas Cowboys. Then again, he didn't have to say a word. His body language said it all. "You could just tell," Cardinals quarterback John Skelton said. "He was getting pretty frustrated. You see the guy, been around him, you know. "But he didn't get down on himself or the team." There is no "diva" in Fitzgerald. The NFL has many of them at the wide receiver position, but Fitzgerald doesn't say or do anything controversial. And he never complains. - Cardinals give fans one final gift with win over Cowboys
Perhaps it's fitting, maybe even a little cliche, that Saturday's Cardinals game was about gifts. The Christmas night battle, the second these teams have played, seemed very much to be about what the teams gave each other.

Skelton unwraps perfect gift with win over Cowboys
Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt wished quarterback John Skelton good luck before Saturday's Christmas Day game against the Dallas Cowboys. Then Skelton informed him: "We've got one last gift to unwrap." It was fitting that gift came off the foot of the Cards' cherubic kicker who has been the team's most consistent player all season.

Wrap-up: Cardinals 27, Cowboys 26 - NFC West Blog - ESPN
What it means: The Cardinals (5-10) can feel better about some of their young players as the offseason approaches. They still have significant issues to address, of course, but this performance represented a welcome departure from recent form. It was easier to envision rookie quarterback John Skelton in the No. 2 role next season after watching him against Dallas. The fourth-quarter drive Skelton led to the winning 48-yard field goal atoned for long stretches without any offensive production. Arizona played with great energy on defense and finally made a big play in the passing game when Skelton found fellow rookie Andre Roberts for a 74-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Roberts, the new third receiver now that Early Doucet is on injured reserve, had five receptions for 110 yards. One drawback, perhaps, was any ground Arizona lost in 2011 draft positioning.

St. Louis Cardinals assistant Donnie Henderson faints, taken to hospital - NFL -
Arizona assistant coach Donnie Henderson fainted as he drove into the stadium area and had a minor accident before the Cardinals faced the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night. Henderson, who coaches defensive backs, was taken to a nearby hospital for further examination, but he was described as coherent after the incident. The car smashed into a barricade but Henderson was not hurt, the team said.

(Yes I know the link says St. Louis Cardinals, I just felt like leaving it like that to see if anyone caught it)

Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald making a difference for new cancer center
Larry Fitzgerald wears his hair in dreadlocks to honor the memory of his mother, Carol, who died of breast cancer in 2003. "When I was in high school, I had long locks then too, and my mom would tell me, 'It's a good look for you,' " Fitzgerald said. "So when my mother passed away I thought, 'what better way could I honor her than doing something I can see every day?' So every day I brush my teeth in the mirror, see my hair flowing over my shoulder and I think about my mother." Soon, Fitzgerald's devotion to his mother will be evident for the entire Valley to see. The Cardinals wide receiver is the honorary campaign chairman for the construction of the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, scheduled to open on the Banner Gateway Gilbert campus in the fall of 2011.

Video Gallery
Cards beat Boys on Feely's last second FG

Video Gallery
Daryl Washington - Wired

Video Gallery
Cards Christmas Greetings

Video Gallery
First Look - The Ken Whisenhunt Show - Week 16

NFL Videos: Cowboys vs. Cardinals highlights
Jay Feely's late FG carries the Cardinals past Dallas, 27-26, in a Christmas edition of Thursday Night Football.

NFL Videos: Cardinals postgame press conference
The Cardinals react following their victory over the Cowboys.

NFL Videos: Fitzgerald and Skelton on set
Larry Fitzgerald and John Skelton join the set after defeating the Dallas Cowboys 27-26 on Thursday night.

NFL Videos: Cromartie on the comeback
Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie talks with Alex Flanagan after a dramatic come-from-behind win over the Cowboys on Christmas.

NFL Videos: Dockett: It's 'Merry Christmas for us'
DE Darnell Dockett speaks on the Cardinals' last-second win against the Cowboys.

NFL Videos: Cardinals post-game celebration
Go inside the locker room as Ken Whisenhunt addresses his players after an improbable Christmas day win over the Cowboys.

Christmas Day Miracle In Arizona: Cardinals Beat Cowboys 27-26 - SB Nation Arizona
Arizona Cardinal cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler both returned interceptions for touchdowns in the first quarter, John Skelton threw for his first career touchdown pass and Jay Feely hit a 48-yard field goal with five seconds left in the game to edge the Dallas Cowboys 27-26 on Christmas night.

Cowboys Vs. Cardinals: Arizona Wins After Weird Fourth Quarter Features Penalty Flag In Facemask, Dueling No-Name Quarterbacks -
In the fourth quarter of the Christmas Day game between the Cowboys and the Cardinals, there was a penalty flag thrown in Dallas quarterback Stephen McGee's facemask. It might have been the third-weirdest thing to happen in the period.

Christmas craziness: Cardinals clip Cowboys | ProFootballTalk
If Ebenezer Scrooge were a football fan, he’d sneer "bah, humbug" at a Christmas night offering consisting of mathematically eliminated teams led by third-string quarterbacks. But in the spirit of the season, we’ll channel Linus in our assessment of tonight’s Cowboys-Cardinals contest and say that it never was such a bad little game.

Cardinals nearing Seahawks' return record - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The Arizona Cardinals have 12 return touchdowns this season, one short of the NFL record, after cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler returned interceptions all the way in the first quarter of their ongoing game against Dallas.

Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys went in wrong direction in time for Christmas Day matchup
The Cardinals game against the Cowboys on Saturday once was filled with promise. Then the season started.

Christmas Cards
Holiday spent hosting the Cowboys on national TV

Christmas at home, and other stuff
Merry Christmas Eve from Cardinals-land: Normally, the Cardinals spend the night before a game in a hotel, even home games. But not tonight. Not Christmas Eve. "I feel it’s important, especially with the guys who have young children, that they spend Christmas morning with their families," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We are fortunate we don’t have to be on the road. There are so few times when you get a chance to spend Christmas morning home with your family in this profession that when you have a chance to do it, it’s the right thing to do." That doesn’t mean, however, that the holiday makes things easy with a game looming less than 24 hours away. "It takes away from your study time," Whisenhunt said, noting the team will come back for a night meeting at the facility this evening. "You hate to say Christmas is a distraction, but when you are working, that’s what it is. … With the number of mistakes we’ve made this year, you have to get in the books and study and try to eliminate those things."

Final Word: NFC West - NFC West Blog - ESPN
1. Calling all quarterbacks. NFC West starting quarterbacks Matt Hasselbeck, Sam Bradford, Alex Smith and John Skelton combined for two touchdown passes, eight interceptions and an 0-4 record in Week 15. All but Smith will be back in the lineup for his team in Week 16. Which one, if any, will rise to the occasion? Arizona faces a Dallas defense that has allowed 31 scoring passes, tied with Houston for most in the league. But the Cardinals have only eight touchdown passes all season. No team has finished a season with fewer since Oakland had seven during the 2006 season. Something has to give when Dallas visits Arizona on Saturday.

Mailbag: Acquiring top pick in 2011 draft? - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Larry from Las Vegas writes: What would it take for the Cardinals to get the No. 1 overall choice in the 2011 NFL draft? With as many holes as the Panthers have -- and with quarterback not being one of them -- they would want to trade down. Would the Cardinals' first- and second-rounders be too much? How bout possible player/pick combinations. My whole point is, this team is only a franchise QB away from dominating the NFC West for years to come. I wholeheartedly believe our defense would be better if the scheme were better and the offense helped them out by converting on third down. blogs - Kent Somers - Christmas Eve practice
The Cardinals went through a 75-minute workout this morning, then were free to go home and spend time with family. The players were due to report back for meetings tonight, then are excused to spend the night at home. They usually stay in a hotel the night before games. Coach Ken Whisenhunt felt it was important that players and staff spend Christmas morning with family.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys - play of the game
Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys - play of the game, The Cardinals trailed 26-24 after the Cowboys scrambled late to take their first lead of the game with 1:41 remaining. Arizona had the ball at its 24-yard line with 1:36 left and just one timeout.

Cowboys aftermath
The penalty flag was thrown, and suddenly, I thought of Leonard Davis. No, not because big Len was on the other sideline for the Cowboys. Because I remember a sweaty September day at Sun Devil Stadium in 2005, when the Cards had reached the Rams’ 5-yard line down five points in the waning seconds. A comeback win was within reach – except Davis was called for a false start with seven seconds left. The Cards had no timeouts left, and by rule, that meant a 10-second runoff. It meant a very difficult way to lose a chance to win. So that’s what I was thinking when the flag came out Saturday night, when the Cards had finally made it to the Dallas 25-yard line down two points. A spike, a penalty, oh God. I wasn’t the only one. Players were headed to the locker room, for goodness sake.

Cards' dramatic win an NFC West exception - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Let there be no doubt about the 2010 Seattle Seahawks. Their final scores this season average an NFL-high 17.7-point differential. That includes 13.7 points per game when they win and a league-high 20.8 points per game when they lose. That comes as no surprise to anyone following the NFC West closely this season. All four teams in the division rank among the NFL's top 15 in average differential regardless of outcome, even though Arizona pulled out a one-point victory against Dallas on Saturday. The Cardinals rank eighth in average outcome differential at 13.7 points per game. The San Francisco 49ers are ninth at 13.0 points per game. The St. Louis Rams are 15th with an 11.2-point differential on average. The chart ranks every team in the league by average point differential regardless of outcome. It also shows the average margins for victories and defeats.

Just Enough Fitzgerald
Larry Fitzgerald was blunt. "About four years ago, I might have been pouting on the sidelines," the wide receiver said, with the knowledge he didn’t get a reception Saturday night against the Cowboys until just over a minute remained in the game. But then Fitzgerald got one to extend his streak to 101 straight, and it was a doozy – a 26-yarder on fourth-and-15 that sparked the Cards’ game-winning drive in the 27-26 win. And it was enough.

Baltimore Ravens' Anquan Boldin serving others, giving back
Baltimore Ravens' Anquan Boldin serving others, giving back, Anquan Boldin's uncommon bond with Joe Marx began with this simple question: Can you throw a football? blogs - Kent Somers - Post-game spread
Cardinals kicker Jay Feely thought his chance at a game-winning field goal had ended when the Cardinals were penalized for an illegal formation with 10 seconds remaining. Feely wasn't the only one thinking the penalty would require an automatic 10-second run off, ending the game. "I thought it was over," said Cowboys Jerry Jones. But for the 10-second runoff to apply, the foul has to be one that prevents the snap, such as false start or encroachment. An illegal formation penalty doesn't prevent the snap. "If they were moving, that's where the 10 second run-off would come in," said Cowboys interim coach Jason Garrett. "We can talk about the pros and cons of that rule, but there is some gray area there that probably needs to be discussed." If the 10-second rule had been applied, Ken Whisenhunt thinks it would have gone to official review to determine exactly how much time was on the clock when play was stopped. "I ws trying to get the field goal team lined up in case it was a situation where they put it on the ball," Whisenhunt said. "I looked up at the clock after the penalty had been thrown and there was 10 seconds left and I thought, 'OK, it had to have been snapped before 10 seconds.'" - Doug: Notes from Cardinals win over Cowboys
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Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (shoulder) placed on IR - ESPN
The Detroit Lions have placed quarterback Matthew Stafford on injured reserve with a separated right shoulder.

Michael Vick's redemption among top 10 NFL stories of 2010 - Don Banks -
Top 10 NFL stories of 2010

Jerry Jones is "mad as hell" | ProFootballTalk
Though it’s unclear whether he’ll continue to take it anymore, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has borrowed half of a classic cinema quote in the wake of a loss to the team that lost a week ago to the Panthers. "I’m mad as hell," Jones said after the Christmas Night last-second loss to the Cardinals, "and I know all of our fans are."