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NFL '97 WEEK 2 | ARIZONA 25, DALLAS 22

Things Finally Going Upright for the Hard-Luck Cardinals

September 08, 1997

TEMPE, Ariz. — For nearly seven years, the Dallas Cowboy-Arizona Cardinal rivalry was so lopsided it bordered on the ridiculous.

It turned sublime for the Cardinals, though, when the bad luck that had dogged them through Dallas' 13-game winning streak in the series turned their way.

Kent Graham, overcoming boos and three lost fumbles, passed for two touchdowns as Arizona overcame a 15-point deficit, then took the Cardinals within range of Kevin Butler's 20-yard field goal in overtime Sunday night. The kick hit the left upright, but still went through with 6:30 left, giving the Cardinals a 25-22 victory.

"I felt like we were going to take a penalty, because the clock was going down," Butler said. "So I was kind of sitting back there and when I saw the ball come, I moved a little too quick. That's probably an apropos way to defeat the Cowboys after such a long, uphill battle."

The Cardinals last defeated Dallas, 20-14, on Oct. 14, 1990.

It also was the first victory by the Cardinals in a home opener since they moved to Arizona in 1988. They won their first game at home in 1987, their last year in St. Louis.

The Cardinals fell behind, 22-7, early in the third quarter on Richie Cunningham's fifth field goal.

"We were struggling the whole game, making drives and then we'd get stopped and make a great drive, then we'd get stopped three more times. We just kept hanging in there and fighting," said Graham, who completed a two-point conversion pass to tie it, 22-22, in regulation.

Before the winning drive in overtime, Graham fumbled when the ball slipped out of his hand as he tried to pass. But teammate Terry Irving recovered a fumble.

Given a break, Graham had completions of 19 yards to Rob Moore and 29 yards to Larry Centers, who carried tacklers to the three-yard line to set up Butler's kick.

"Larry Centers is like this organization," coach Vince Tobin said. "You have to fight and claw for everything you get."

Fans in the crowd of 71,578 flooded the field and tore down the goalposts to celebrate the end of the long victory drought against the Cowboys (1-1), who looked formidable on opening weekend with a 37-7 rout of Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Arizona (1-1) had lost 24-21 to Cincinnati after leading 21-3. Centers fumbled as the Cardinals tried to run out the clock and the Bengals recovered, driving to victory in the final minute.

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