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Giants Beat Cardinals in Battle of Mediocrity

October 09, 1995|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If Buddy Ryan was right about the must-win nature of the Arizona-New York game, the Giants still have something to strive for and the Cardinals can pack it in for the 1995 season.

Linebacker Jessie Armstead intercepted Dave Krieg's pass and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown 4:05 into overtime Sunday, giving the Giants (2-4) a 27-21 victory over Arizona (1-5) in a sloppy game between two struggling teams.

"It's about time we got a break," said Giant quarterback Dave Brown, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. "We've been playing hard all year, and to finally come up with a victory, especially one in a game like that, is a great feeling."

The victory might even be considered season-saving; at least that's how Ryan viewed the game a couple of days ago. The Cardinal coach said the winner would be back in the playoff race and the loser didn't have a chance at making the playoffs.

After losing, Ryan didn't change his tune. He didn't give up hope, though.

"We have no quitters," he said. "We'll regroup. I thought we had everything going for us."

Arizona outgained New York 431-344 and held the ball almost 10 minutes longer.

However, Krieg made one final costly mistake, throwing a pass behind wide receiver Anthony Edwards right into the hands of Armstead, who returned it up the left sideline untouched.

"The running back went out and the wide receiver came in," said Armstead, who was playing in a zone defense in the middle with the option of coming up on the running back or staying out with the receiver.

Earlier in the game, he came up on the running back and the receiver caught the ball. This time, Armstead stayed back.

"I jumped on the wide receiver," the third-year pro said of his first touchdown. "I read the pass and I saw [Mike] Strahan putting on the pressure. I made sure I caught the ball and then headed for the end zone."

Said Krieg, who passed for 305 yards and threw two touchdowns and a two-point conversion to rookie Frank Sanders: "I was trying to throw it over the middle to Anthony, but I threw it behind him and their guy intercepted."

The loss was the third in a row for the Cardinals and ended a string of five consecutive overtime losses for the Giants, who have won two of their last three, with the loss being a good effort against the 49ers.

"It's a great win," Armstead said. "We needed it."

The Cardinals needed it too.

"If you win a game like this, it has to boost your morale," Cardinal linebacker Eric Hill said. "When you lose one like this, you have to really reach down and find a way to come back and not go in the tank."

Armstead's interception was the third turnover in overtime and the seventh of the game. It ended a series of emotional swings in the last seven minutes.

The Giants had a chance to win earlier after linebacker Mike Croel forced Krieg's fumble at the Cardinals' 35. But Lorenzo Lynch forced a fumble by Brown on a sack two plays later.

Three plays after that, Krieg, who was 23 for 38, made the final flub.

Both teams also squandered chances to win the game in the final minutes of regulation.

After running the ball from their 20 to the Cardinals' six, Rodney Hampton, playing with a broken right hand, fumbled at the five and Aeneas Williams recovered with 3:07 to play.

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