Defensive linemen Calais Campbell (left) and Darnell Dockett celebrate the Cardinals' goal-line stand at the end of Sunday' 28-21 win.
The Cardinals' defense had surrendered touchdowns on three straight possessions at one point in the second half Sunday, but then it provided the winning points.
After that, it provided the winning play.
The Cardinals, with Houston just a yard away from a tying touchdown, held for three straight downs, preserving a 28-21 win over the Texans, their first victory at home this season.
"Early in my career a wise man once told me if there is a blade of grass you have to defend it regardless of what's going on," linebacker Clark Haggans said. "We had a blade of grass to defend and you never give up. We just went out there and played hard and we stuffed them."
Pretty wouldn't describe the play of the defense in the second half. But cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown for what turned out to be the game's final touchdown, and then the defense turned in a thing of beauty that kept the Texans out of the end zone on Houston's final drive.
"We needed a play bad," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "We stayed together and kept telling everybody we're going to win this game. Nobody said it was going to be pretty."
On second-and-goal from the one, running back Chris Brown was stuffed for no gain. On third down, Houston QB Matt Schaub found tight end Joel Dreessen in the back of the end zone, but Dreessen couldn't get his feet down. Finally on fourth, the defense stopped Brown again, essentially ending the game.
"On the last play, I read it because they tried to do the same thing," defensive end Calais Campbell said with a smile. "(The offensive linemen) stopped a little early and I read the play, so I tried to blow up the tight end. The guys in the middle, B-Rob (Bryan Robinson), Gabe (Watson) and (Darnell) Dockett blew it up inside so there was nowhere for the running back to go. It was just huge."
"I thought he got in," Schaub said. "But they called it the other way."
Brown felt like he crossed the goal line too: "I thought I was in, but it was a close call and it didn't go our way today."
The stand was reminiscent of the game against the 49ers on Monday night football last season. San Francisco trailed by five with the ball on the one on fourth down but failed to score the go-ahead touchdown on the final play of the game.
"I'll tell you what, you talk about karma," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "You may think I'm crazy but the Monday night game last year on that fourth down, we had the same officiating crew this year. One of the officials came up to me and said, 'We had your game last year against San Francisco.'
"I wish he had told me that before they ran the fourth down play," he added with a laugh. "Then I would have known they were going to stop them."
In practice during the week, coordinator Bill Davis preached to his defense about playing 60 solid minutes.
"We just need four quarters of that and we haven't put that game together yet, but we came out of this one with a great finish," Davis said.
"We had let downs at the end of the third and most of the fourth quarter," Watson added. "But in the end it was just down to being a man, doing your job, doing everything perfect for a few plays and winning the game."
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