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It's No Desert Mirage

October 21, 2002|From Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. — That's no misprint in the NFL standings. The Arizona Cardinals are tied for first place in the NFC West.

Despite scoring no touchdowns and missing two field goals in the final minutes of regulation, the Cardinals beat the Dallas Cowboys, 9-6, on Bill Gramatica's 40-yard field goal with 3:10 left in overtime Sunday.

The Cardinals (4-2) are off to their best start since 1988, their first season in Arizona, and are tied for first with San Francisco. The teams meet next Sunday in San Francisco.

"To be in first place six games into the season is great," quarterback Jake Plummer said. "When those 16 games are done, that's where I want to be."

Gramatica had missed from 28 and 51 yards in the last 3:24 of regulation.

"I've got to make every kick. I don't care if it's 28 or 51," he said. "The team killed themselves to give me an opportunity for another shot."

Gramatica's field goals of 41 and 23 yards put Arizona ahead, 6-0, in the first half.

Dallas' Quincy Carter threw four interceptions in the game, and the Cowboys (3-4) botched an extra-point kick.

Emmitt Smith gained a season-high 82 yards in 22 carries, leaving him 92 yards shy of Walter Payton's NFL career rushing record of 16,726. But the ground game couldn't make up for Carter's interceptions -- two of which were made in the end zone. Carter expected to get the blame for the loss.

"That's one thing that you've got to go through as a quarterback. You've got to stand up and face the heat when it's on you," he said.

Said Cowboy Coach Dave Campo: "He's going to have to really look at himself in this one, because we had an opportunity to get some things done. But let me stress one thing: There were enough penalties and other things where this was a team effort. We're not going to point fingers at any one individual."

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