Cowboys 26

(5-10, 3-4 away)

Cardinals 27

(5-10, 4-4 home)

Coverage: NFL

7:30 PM ET, December 25, 2010

U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ 

1 2 3 4 T
DAL 0 10 10 626
ARI 14 7 0 627

Top Performers

Passing: J. Skelton (ARI) - 183 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: F. Jones (DAL) - 16 CAR, 77 YDS

Receiving: M. Austin (DAL) - 6 REC, 115 YDS, 1 TD

Cardinals' Jay Feely kicks game winner after Cowboys botch PAT

Associated Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Arizona once soared on the arm of Kurt Warner. Dallas rests its hopes on Tony Romo.

Now, Warner is retired, Romo is hurt and the teams are down to third-stringers John Skelton and Stephen McGee -- the unlikely stars of 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 Cardinals a 27-26 victory over the Cowboys.

"Really, nothing's bigger than beating the Dallas Cowboys on Christmas Day right now," Cardinals rookie QB Skelton said. "Whiz [coach Ken Whisenhunt] was shaking my hand before the game and I said, 'We have one last gift to unwrap.' Sure enough, it took the last minute, but we got it."

Dallas (5-10) rallied from 18 points down to take a 26-24 lead when McGee, in his first NFL game, threw 37 yards to Miles Austin for a touchdown with 1:46 to play. But David Buehler's extra point went wide left.

"I'm not feeling too good," Buehler said. "I feel bad for Stephen. He drove the team down there and got the touchdown. PATs are something that is something automatic. You have to put them through the uprights. I think I just rushed it a little bit."

Arizona (5-10) was in deep trouble after the kickoff, but Skelton, on fourth-and-15 from the Cardinals 19, threw 26 yards to Larry Fitzgerald, his only catch of the game. Then Skelton threw 19 yards to fellow rookie Max Komar.

An illegal formation penalty moved the ball back 5 yards but still well within Feely's range. Feely, who had a 49-yarder earlier, has missed three kicks all season, including a 49-yard attempt Saturday night.

Many thought the Cowboys had won it when the penalty was called because they expected a 10-second runoff. But referee Jeff Triplette said that the runoff does not apply to an illegal formation call.

"I promise you, I almost threw my helmet," Feely said. "I thought it was a 10-second runoff. We all did on the sideline."

Fitzgerald's string of games with at least two catches ended at 97, fourth-longest in NFL history.

"About four years ago I might have been pouting on the sidelines at that time," he said, "but I really wasn't too frustrated, honestly. I saw the calls and they were trying to get stuff all day.

"John Skelton made a terrific play down the stretch."

The missed extra point haunted the Cowboys after the game.

"He [Bueller] has been a fairly consistent kicker at times," interim Dallas coach Jason Garrett said, "and at other times he has missed some kicks that he is capable of making."

Dallas fell behind 14-0 when Kitna had interceptions returned for touchdowns on the Cowboys' first two possessions. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned the first 32 yards, and Greg Toler the second 66.

Under clear skies with the stadium roof open and at least half the capacity crowd cheering for Dallas, the Cardinals took a 21-3 lead. Skelton, in his third NFL start, connected with wide-open rookie Andre Roberts on a 74-yard play for the young quarterback's first NFL touchdown pass.

Kitna, the starter since Romo went down with a broken collarbone, got Dallas in the end zone before halftime. The 38-year-old quarterback scrambled 7 yards up the middle to the Arizona 2-yard line, and on fourth down threw to Jason Witten for the score. He left the field and immediately went to the locker room with a hip injury and didn't play again, watching from the sideline wearing a baseball cap.

McGee, a fourth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M in 2009, smoothly stepped in, repeatedly connecting on third-down passes. He finished 11-of-17 for 111 yards with no interceptions.

The Cowboys dominated the third quarter, holding Arizona to 23 yards and no first downs, outscoring the Cardinals 10-0 to cut the lead to 21-20.

Feely's 49-yarder boosted the lead to 24-20, forcing the Cowboys to go for a touchdown.

They got it on a perfect pass by McGee onto Austin's fingertips. The best Arizona could hope for was overtime, everyone thought. Then Buehler missed a conversion kick for the second time in 40 tries.

Austin slipped on Dallas' first possession, allowing Rodgers-Cromartie to pick off the pass and run to the end zone.

On the next possession, the Cowboys drove to the Arizona 39, then Kitna's pass bounced off the hands of Roy Williams into the arms of Toler, who escaped tacklers and outran the competition for the TD.

It was the first time since 1999 a team had returned two interceptions for scores in the first quarter.

The Cowboys dropped to 4-3 since Wade Phillips was fired and replaced by Garrett. Arizona has won two of three after losing seven in a row.

Kitna said after the game he had a "strained left oblique."

"We tried to do what we could to block the pain," he added. "We were hoping it was a hip pointer but it's more than that."

He was uncertain if he would be able to play in Dallas' season finale at Philadelphia.

Game notes

Arizona has 12 returns for TDs this season, one shy of the NFL record set by Seattle in 2003. ... Arizona was without OLB Joey Porter (triceps) and kick returner LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring). ... The Cowboys lost LB Leon Williams to a hamstring injury. ... The last time the teams met, on the same field, Sean Morey blocked a punt in overtime and Monty Beisel returned it 3 yards to give Arizona the win.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2410
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays7647
Total Yards382271
Yards per play5.05.8
Total Drives1311
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-20-0
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs02

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

ariTD12:56Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie 32 Yard Interception Return (Jay Feely Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 32 yds, 0:41
ariTD8:36Gregory Toler 66 Yard Interception Return (Jay Feely Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 37 yds, 4:23
dalFG12:54David Buehler 42 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 37 yds, 4:56
ariTD12:11Andre Roberts 74 Yard Pass From John Skelton (Jay Feely Kick is Good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 80 yds, 0:52
dalTD5:15Jason Witten 2 Yard Pass From Jon Kitna (David Buehler Kick is Good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 81 yds, 6:46
dalFG6:53David Buehler 53 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 5 plays, 26 yds, 1:59
dalTD2:06Marion Barber 24 Yard Run (David Buehler Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 47 yds, 3:42
ariFG3:50Jay Feely 49 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 9 plays, 49 yds, 5:05
dalTD1:47Miles Austin 37 Yard Pass From Stephen Mcgee (David Buehler Kick is No Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yds, 2:04
ariFG0:10Jay Feely 48 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 9 plays, 46 yds, 1:36

Research Notes

From Elias: The Cowboys loss to the Cardinals was the 2nd time this season a team missed an extra point in the final two minutes and then lost by one (the Bucanneers beat the Redskins two weeks ago in similar fasion). Prior to this season, it hadn't happened since Christmas Even of 2006 when the Broncos beat the Bengals.
NEXT-LEVEL: Rookie quarterback John Skelton defied the statistics with a miracle play for the Cardinals. Entering Week 16 only eight passing first downs had been converted out of 75 dropbacks in a "4th down and 15 yards or more to go" situation since 2008. That is only 10.7 conversion percentage. Skelton's pass traveled 26 yards through the air, well beyond the first down marker, and complete to Larry Fitzgerald. Since 2008, Fitzgerald has been targeted on pass attempts thrown to at least or beyond the first down marker more than any other NFL receiver.
NEXT-LEVEL: Arizona utilized pass pressure with a member of the secondary early and often against Jon Kitna and created a sack and two interceptions to take a 14-0 lead. However, the Cowboys were able to climb back into the game following halftime because of the decreased secondary pressure from the Cardinals.
From Elias: Larry Fitzgerald's streak of 97 straight games with multiple catches ended tonight. It was the 4th-longest streak since the AFL-NFL merger (1970)
From Elias: With 5 50-yard FG this week (4 Sunday and 1 Saturday), there have now been 57 50-yard FG this season, the 3rd-most in NFL history in a single season.
From Elias: Larry Fitzgerlald was held to one catch on Saturday night and it came on the last drive of the game. Fitzgerald entered with at leat two receptions in each of the last 97 games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

ESPN Stats & Information