Punt returner Patrick Peterson goes down on his 42-yard return after punter Jon Ryan barely catches his foot in the Cards' win Sunday.
Fitting, in a season where Patrick Peterson had been so hard on punters, it was a punter that did him in.
Playing Sunday against Seattle despite an Achilles injury that threatened to keep him out, the rookie Pro Bowl return man was looking for his record-breaking fifth punt return for a touchdown and seemed to have it in the second quarter, breaking up the middle and headed for the end zone.
Until, at least, punter Jon Ryan, diving in a desperate and normally futile attempt to slow Peterson, managed to get just enough of Peterson's foot to turn the touchdown into "just" a 42-yard return down to the Seahawks' 31-yard line.
"I lost location of the punter because I had a guy on my left," Peterson said. "I was going to go all the way back left. That's when I went back over to my right late and I was kind of stumbling on my cutback. So he didn't necessarily get me down. He just made a great play."
Peterson did add a 17-yard return on the day, and his 63 yards on four returns gave him an NFL-rookie record 699 for the season. Peterson finished with a 15.9-yard average on the season.
His special day of special teams didn't end there. Peterson also blocked a field goal – kind of important in a game that went to overtime – to give the Cards five blocks this season and Peterson his second.
"I told (safety) Adrian Wilson I had an opportunity earlier in the game to block one but I kind of lagged off," Peterson said. "The next time I told Adrian, 'I'm going to get this one' and I came around untouched."
BEANIE SITS, SO STEPHENS-HOWLING STEPS IN
With the knee of Beanie Wells still giving him trouble, coach Ken Whisenhunt decided to inactivate his 1,000-yard rusher for the finale.
"When you look at where we are and what Beanie has gone through this year and how much he battled, Beanie was mad at me because he wanted to play," Whisenhunt said. "He has been a warrior all year playing on one leg. I just thought at this point it was in his best interest to not play."
Wells acknowledged he wanted to play – "I was upset like any competitor would be," he said – but it opened the door for LaRod Stephens-Howling to get his first chance as feature back. Stephens-Howling ended up with career-highs in carries (21) and yards (93).
"Coach told me I'd be getting some carries, but he never said I'd be starting," Stephens-Howling said, adding "I just tried to make the best of it."
NEEDING A HOLLIDAY
When star defensive end Calais Campbell left the game with an ankle injury, it suddenly made veteran backup Vonnie Holliday very important. Holliday came through with five tackles, including three for loss, and a pair of quarterback hits.
"Calais is a hell of a player," Holliday said. "It was tough. But I've been in that situation, I know what he's doing, playing for a new contract. When you are in that situation, you want to be out there as much as you can. We talk about it all the time and I told him, 'I know what you're doing.'
"My number was called, and you can't have a drop-off. This game made me feel – and I have to watch it on film – that I have more football left in me."
Holliday, who will be a free agent, said he needs to consider his future and talk about with his family. But the 36-year-old said as of Sunday night he wants to play in 2012.
FITZ, SKELTON BATTLE THROUGH AILMENTS
Quarterback John Skelton became light-headed after having his knee drained prior to pre-game warmups and fainted. It scared wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald – "It shows you his toughness," Fitzgerald said – but wasn't an issue.
Fitzgerald too battled a rib and lung injury in the game. He underwent x-rays – Fitzgerald's father tweeted that his son had thrown up blood during the game – but is expected to be OK and obviously finished the game.