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Cardinals Sitting Pretty

December 21, 1998|From Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. — Maybe the Arizona Cardinals are good enough for the playoffs.

Quarterback Jake Plummer led the Cardinals on another last-minute drive, setting up Chris Jacke's final-play, 36-yard field goal that gave Arizona a 19-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

The Cardinals (8-7), who last made the playoffs in the 1982 strike season with a 5-4 record while playing in St. Louis, can claim the final NFC wild-card berth with a home victory over the San Diego Chargers next Sunday.

The Cardinals haven't been to the playoffs in a non-strike year since 1975.

The loss eliminated the Saints (6-9) from playoff contention, leaving only Tampa Bay and the New York Giants alive. If the Cardinals lose, they can still make the playoffs if Philadelphia beats the Giants.

Plummer passed for 394 yards and threw the final block to spring Adrian Murrell on his 21-yard scoring run--Arizona's only touchdown--with 8:16 left in the third quarter.

The victory was the eighth for Plummer, a second-year quarterback, in 10 games when Arizona was tied or trailing in the fourth quarter. He directed the 92-yard drive in the final 1:16 to set up Jacke's game-winner that went through the uprights as the clock ran out.

Jacke had three earlier field goals from 21, 38 and 46 yards.

Kerry Collins' 13-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Cleeland capped a 14-play, 75-yard drive that gave the Saints a 17-16 lead with 1:21 left before Plummerguided the Cardinals to theirgame-winning drive.

Starting at the Arizona 8, Plummer connected with Frank Sanders for 25 and 28 yards, scrambled for 21 yards, then got two more yards on a quarterback sneak to put the Cardinals in position for Jacke's field goal.

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