The first 61:30 of Sunday’s Cardinals-Rams game were fairly dull, but the last 30 seconds were a doozy.
Rookie Patrick Peterson took a punt back 99 yards in overtime to give the Cardinals a 19-13 win over the Rams. It’s the third punt that Peterson has taken back for a touchdown this season and it is the second time that his skills as a returner have contributed to an Arizona win this season. He had an 89-yard punt return score in the fourth quarter of the season opener against the Panthers, the only other time the Cardinals have won a game in 2011.
Peterson looked like he was going to be the goat at the end of regulation. He picked up a pass interference penalty on a third down incompletion to Brandon Lloyd, giving the Rams a first down and a chance to have Josh Brown win the game with his fourth field goal of the day. Calais Campbell bailed out Peterson by blocking Brown’s kick, though, and Peterson returned the favor a few minutes later.
The victory came despite John Skelton becoming the first quarterback since 2008 to take two safeties in the same game. He was sacked for one and flagged for intentional grounding on the other, and both plays seemed like they could have been avoided by a more experienced quarterback. Skelton wound up with a decent day — 20-of-35 for 222 yards and a well thrown touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald to tie the game — but he nearly blundered the Cardinals into another loss.
He probably would have if the Rams were up to the task, but they simply aren’t good enough to make a team as modest as the Cards pay for their errors. Sam Bradford looked tentative in his return after two weeks on the sideline and Steve Spagnuolo made a questionable choice to go for it on fourth-and-one with less than two minutes to play instead of kicking a 51-yard field goal. The play call, an inside run by Steven Jackson, was the same call as the previous play and it failed against a Cardinals defense that saw it coming a mile away. St. Louis dominated time of possession, but their offense has so little spark that they couldn’t manage a touchdown on the afternoon.
Making things worse for the Rams was the loss of receiver Greg Salas. The rookie had seven catches and seemed to be helping Bradford move the chains, but he was carted off with what looked like a serious leg injury. Cardinals defensive back Michael Adams was also carted off during the game with his head and neck immobilized after a collision with Rams wideout Austin Pettis.