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THE NFL / 1996

Esiason Shows Passing Interest in Upset

NFC: Cardinal quarterback throws for 522 yards and Butler's field goal gives Arizona a 37-34 overtime victory over the Redskins.

November 11, 1996|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Seven turnovers. Five pass-interference penalties. Spectacular blunders that kept erasing winning opportunities. It seemed as if neither team wanted to win, and neither team almost did.

Only 33 seconds away from the first NFL tie in seven years, Kevin Butler finally won it on his third chance in overtime, a 32-yard field goal that gave the Arizona Cardinals a 37-34 upset victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

"Have you ever had root canal without anesthesia?" said Redskin defensive coordinator Ron Lynn when asked to describe the final moments of the game.

Seconds before his winning kick, Butler hit the left upright with a 37-yard attempt, but Washington's Darryl Morrison was offside, giving the kicker another chance. Butler, signed last week after the Cardinals released Greg Davis, also hooked a 32-yard attempt that floated just wide left with 9:10 left in overtime.

"You just tell yourself the first one was practice," said Butler, who was cut by the Bears earlier this season. "I've been away 10 weeks, but it's something I should do better."

Between Butler's second and third kicks, the Redskins (7-3) appeared to wrap things up on a good 38-yard kick by Scott Blanton. But Scott Galbraith was called for holding on the play, and Blanton missed wide left when he tried again from 48 yards with 3:35 to go.

"I would have said it was a good call if it was a good call," Galbraith said. "But I don't think it was holding."

The last time an NFL game finished in a tie after overtime was Nov. 19, 1989, when Cleveland and Kansas City ended their game, 10-10.

Boomer Esiason, in his first start after an unhappy six games on the bench, had the third most prolific day in NFL history in completing 35 of 59 passes for 522 yards, including 351 in the fourth quarter and overtime as he rallied the Cardinals from a 27-13 deficit.

"I guess I have a few more yards left in my arm. When you're in a zone, it's like a pitcher throwing a no-hitter," said the 35-year-old quarterback, who got the chance to play again when Kent Graham was injured last week. "I don't consider myself a backup. I'm a bench starter."

The Cardinals (4-6) forced overtime when Anthony Edwards made a 12-yard touchdown catch with 20 seconds remaining in regulation. The Cardinals trailed, 27-13, after three quarters, and began the drive on their own 34 with 1:24 left and only one timeout remaining.

"The whole game was a gauntlet of emotions," said Arizona Coach Vince Tobin, whose team had lost three of its previous four. "Us scoring and getting back into the game, and we couldn't stop them. We'd score and get back into the thing. You felt like you were never going to get over the hump."

Esiason threw touchdown passes of 64 yards to Marcus McDowdell and 14 yards to Johnny McWilliams in addition to the tying strike to Edwards in the closing seconds of regulation.

The loss was a blow to the Redskins, especially considering they next face Philadelphia, San Francisco and Dallas in consecutive games. They've now lost two in a row after a seven-game winning streak, with the defense giving up 1,091 yards in the two losses.

Michael Westbrook, who caught a career-high six passes for 91 yards, helped the Redskins build their second-half lead. He made a leaping touchdown reception on a 17-yard pass early in the third quarter to put his team ahead, 20-13. Two drives later, he was given the benefit of the doubt in a jersey tug-of-war with Aeneas Williams in the end zone to give the Redskins a first and goal at the one. Terry Allen scored on the next play.

Interference calls continued to be the key as the next three drives ended in touchdowns. An interference call against the Redskins' Tom Carter on Rob Moore set up a one-yard run scoring by Larry Centers. Ronnie Bradford was whistled for grabbing Westbrook for a 31-yard penalty that led to Allen's second one-yard touchdown run. And Esiason connected with Edwards and Centers for big gains before finding McWilliams in the end zone.

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