The last time Arizona won a road game -- it was Oct. 6, 2002 -- the Cardinals pulled out a dramatic win in the final minute on kicker Bill Gramatica's 50-yard field goal.
Sunday, the Cardinals broke their unwieldy 17-game road losing streak, 24-23, at Pro Player Stadium and Gramatica missed an extra point, kicking for the Miami Dolphins. This time the dramatic finish was pulled off by Arizona QB Josh McCown, who threw a 2-yard TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald with 19 seconds left.
"We lost to the two worst franchises in football this year, so what does that say about us right now?" tight end Randy McMichael said, referring to the Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals.
Miami is 1-8 and coach Dave Wannstadt could be fired as early as today. One columnist called him "Dead Man Coaching."
The Dolphins were awful. They missed the extra point, had a sixth interception this season returned for a touchdown -- 41 yards by Duane Starks -- and had 12 penalties for 99 yards. They gave up two, long fourth-quarter TD drives to an offense that had to that point been inept: the Dolphins lost despite a 403 to 270 yard advantage in total offense.
The Cardinals (3-5) met their match in ineptitude. They benefited from two pivotal second-half calls and drove 70 yards in the final two minutes for a TD.
Arizona trailed 12-10 in the fourth quarter when Fitzgerald made an amazing 32-yard catch of a wobbly McCown throw to get the Cards out of a second-and-17 spot at their own 20. Then McCown tried to hit Anquan Boldin on a deep pass when the ball was tipped and intercepted. But Miami cornerback Patrick Surtain, blitzing on the play, was called for a helmet-to-helmet hit on McCown, a 15-yard penalty. Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor kicked the ball, drawing a second 15-yard penalty.
Instead of the Dolphins having the ball and the lead, the Cardinals had it at the Miami 16, and Emmitt Smith ran in a 5-yard touchdown four plays later.
"My neck is hurting pretty good, and he hit me pretty hard," McCown said. "It was big in that it changed that drive."
The Dolphins answered with a field goal to pull within 17-15 and with a Sammy Morris TD run -- set up by Scott Player's 9-yard punt -- and a 2-point conversion pass to McMichael with 1:56 left.
On the winning drive, Fitzgerald caught a 48-yarder to put the ball on the one.
After yet another Miami penalty -- defensive holding -- negated what would have been a sack of McCown by Taylor at the Miami 15, McCown lobbed the ball to Fitzgerald, who posted up Reggie Howard for the easy touchdown.