Cardinals special-teamer Sean Morey lays out to block the punt of Dallas' Mat McBriar on the game-winning play of Arizona's 30-24 win Sunday.
The Cardinals' 30-24 overtime win over Dallas was special Sunday, not only in its meaning for the win-loss record.
Special teams made an impact on the game's first play, when Cardinals return man J.J. Arrington grabbed the opening kickoff and took it back 93 yards for a touchdown, and an impact on the game's final play, when Sean Morey blocked a punt that was returned by Monty Beisel for a game-winning touchdown.
"(Special teams) won the game for us," coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
Morey said the Cards had been double-teaming one of the Cowboys' best special-teams players – Kevin Burnett – all game, but on the final punt, the Cowboys moved Burnett inside to avoid that plan. But it also left someone new trying to block Morey, at a position Morey assumed the new player wasn't yet familiar.
"We were setting up a return," Morey said. "But we've been coached, if your guy doesn't block you, then get to the block point. And it worked out well."
Morey, who blocked a punt last season and is one of the Cards' special-teams captains, joked "it's about time."
"I was surprised to see the ball laying there," said Beisel, who picked it up at the Dallas 3-yard line and tumbled into the end zone for his first career touchdown. "I just picked it up. I didn't even know what to do with it once I had it."
Whisenhunt had challenged the kickoff return team to have a big return against Dallas, a challenge that grew in importance when the Cards won the coin toss and chose to take the ball first.
Arrington, who also returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in Minnesota in 2006, weaved his way in and out of traffic before breaking loose for the score.
"(Coach) said he wanted at least a 50-yarder," Arrington said with a smile.
The Cardinals had a return right set but the Cowboys kicked the ball to the far left.
"I started going back to the right, then went outside to the left, then cut back and there was nothing but green grass," said Arrington, who has made a significant impact in the past two games after being inactive for the first four.
Arrington became the fifth NFL player since 1968 to have two opening kickoff returns for touchdowns, joining Gale Sayers, Mercury Morris, Ike Thomas and Steve Odom.
Both Arrington and Morey downplayed their efforts, choosing instead to revel in the significant win.
"I spend most of the time on the sidelines watching our guys crack heads and play hard," Morey said. "I tip my hat to all the guys on our team."
FLOURISHING WITHOUT Q
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin missed a second straight game after facial surgery, but once again, second-year receiver Steve Breaston impressed. Breaston had eight catches for 102 yards (and his first NFL receiving touchdown) to lead the Cards in both categories.
"I just continue to get open and want to be a reliable receiver for Kurt (Warner)," Breaston said. "I am trying to find my way and where I fit in this offense."
The Cardinals also got a huge performance from Pro Bowl wideout Larry Fitzgerald, who had five catches for 79 yards. Fitzgerald managed to haul in a 39-yard jump ball over cornerback Anthony Henry that jump-started the Cards' fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
"There were a couple of times he told me, 'Just put it up there and give me a chance,' " Warner said. "That long one, I did that. … With him and (Boldin), you just see it over and over again. You come to expect it."
BARBER GETS LOOSE
The Cardinals didn't let Cowboys running back Marion Barber loose as a runner (45 yards on 17 carries). But as a receiver, Barber had 11 catches for 128 yards – including a 70-yard catch-and-run on a short pass for a touchdown that almost helped Dallas pull off an amazing comeback.
The Cardinals looked like they had Barber trapped, but he made it outside to the sideline and then sprinted down the field, grinding through safety Antrel Rolle's tackle and into the end zone.
The Cards had been leading 24-14 at the time.
"He just broke free," Rolle said. "We tried to roll to the ball and there were a couple missed tackles I guess. But we have to stop things like that from happening. Instead of letting them back in we can kill them and let them die right there."
The Cardinals, who sacked Tony Romo three times Sunday and had a fourth lost because of the "tuck rule," have sacks in 29 straight games – the longest active streak in the NFL.
"Every time we stepped in a meeting room, our coach (Ron Aiken) kept saying, 'They're big, they're big, they are gonna hold you, they're gonna try and maul you,' " defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "I was so ready to say, forget this, let's play. I see it on film, I see (guard) Leonard Davis at 6-foot-7, 379 pounds. Stop talking about it.
"When I got down, I was just like, I don't care how big you are, you're in for a rumble today. Our whole defensive line was ready for the challenge."
Defensive end Travis LaBoy came out during the controversial last spike of regulation because of a groin injury. Cornerback Rod Hood was in and out of the game battling cramps. Safety Aaron Francisco suffered a thigh injury but was expected to be OK. …
Defensive end Bertrand Berry returned after missing two games with a groin tear and recorded his fourth sack of the season, one in each game he has played. …
The Cards have won six straight at home for the first time since winning the final home game of the 1975 season and the first five home games in 1976.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 10/12/08.