Cardinals downed by Bills in overtime thriller

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona kicker Jay Feely made a tying 61-yard

field goal and, just as improbably, missed a 38-yarder that would have

given the cardiac Cardinals another pull-it-from-the-ashes victory.

Had the Cardinals not had so many

mistakes before that emotionally-draining sequence, it would never have

come down to those two kicks.

Arizona lost a chance to win in

regulation when Feely’s 38-yard attempt was tipped, then the game when

Buffalo’s Rian Lindell made a 25-yarder in overtime that gave the Bills a

19-16 win over the Cardinals on Sunday.

The final dramatic swings came from the

legs of the two kickers. The loss, from the Cardinals’ perspective, came

from all those dropped passes, missed assignments and mental mistakes

leading up to another climactic finish at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“We have to make some plays earlier in

the game so we’re not living on the edge,” Cardinals coach Ken

Whisenhunt said. “We have been good about being able to finish out those

… and we have won a heck of a lot more than we haven’t, but the

stress of it is pretty tough for everybody.”

Arizona (4-2) had developed a knack for pulling out victories, particularly at home, by making the big plays at the end.

The Cardinals entered the game with an

eight-game home winning streak, second-longest in team history, and had

won seven straight home overtime games, the longest streak in NFL

history.

Arizona didn’t seem like it would get

another shot against the Bills (3-3), unable to protect quarterback

Kevin Kolb — again — or get much of anything going downfield.

Despite all the early mistakes and a

rib injury that knocked Kolb out in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals

fought their way back.

John Skelton, active for the first time

since spraining his right ankle in the opener against Seattle, took

over for Kolb in the closing minutes after he was sacked and gingerly

walked off the field. After Feely’s franchise-record 61-yard kick with

1:09 left, Skelton hit Larry Fitzgerald on a 28-yard pass to set up the

potential winning kick at the end of regulation.

Arizona’s chance to win it in

regulation fluttered away when Feely’s 38-yard attempt hit the left

upright after Buffalo’s Alex Carrington got a hand on the ball.

Playing in their sixth overtime in nine

home games, the Cardinals forced the Bills to punt on the first

possession of overtime, seemingly setting them up for another

how’d-they-do-that win.

Instead, Jairus Byrd cheated in on an

inside route to Rob Housler and intercepted Skelton’s pass, returning it

29 yards to Arizona’s 6-yard line. Lindell split the uprights two plays

later to give the Bills a sigh-of-relief win.

“You go from on top of the world to

feeling about as low as you can feel when you have an opportunity to

come through and you don’t, regardless of how it happened,” said Feely,

whose previous career best was a 55-yard field goal.

The Bills limped into the game, beaten

up physically and mentally after giving up 1,201 yards and 97 points

their previous two games.

They got off to a miserable start, too,

when Fred Jackson fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Arizona

recovered at Buffalo’s 33-yard line.

The Bills held Arizona to a field goal

and didn’t back down in a defensive struggle, getting a pair of

interceptions from Byrd and five sacks, including one on Kolb for a

safety in the first quarter.

Pretty? Certainly not. But it was a win, one the Bills desperately needed before the season spiraled away from them.

“It wasn’t pretty at times, but it was a

gut check and that might go a long way for our football team,” Bills

coach Chan Gailey said.

Buffalo was coming off a 45-3 loss to San Francisco after giving up a franchise-record 621 yards.

Instead of heading home from the Bay

Area, the Bills opted to stay the week at an Arizona resort in hopes of

healing and regrouping.

The time together in the desert seemed to do them some good.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, who grew up in nearby

Gilbert as a Cardinals fan, was unspectacular, but steady, completing

18 of 32 passes for 153 yards.

Buffalo did most of its damage on the

ground, with C.J. Spiller getting 88 yards on 12 carries, including a

10-yard touchdown run, and Jackson adding 53 yards, with a 1-yard

scoring run.

The defense harassed Kolb all day

before knocking him out on a sack with just over 2 minutes left in

regulation. Kolb threw for 128 yards on 14-of-26 passing, with an

interception and a 9-yard scoring pass to Fitzgerald in the second

quarter.

The Bills were just as good against

Skelton, holding him to 45 yards on 2 of 10 passing with the one big

interception by Byrd in overtime.

“We were away from the distractions and

it was just us here in Arizona,” Byrd said. “It was a chance for us to

soul search, get corrected what we needed to get corrected without the

distractions of being at home. it was great for us mentally for us to be

able to regroup.”

Notes: Fitzgerald joined Randy Moss as

the only players under 30 to reach 10,000 yards receiving. … Mario

Williams had two sacks for the Bills after getting 1.5 the first five

games…. Buffalo safety Da’Norris Searcy left with an ankle injury

early in the third quarter. … Cardinals S Kerry Rhodes was carried off

the field with a back injury with 5:41 to play in regulation.