Work in Sports
PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Chris Jacke's 31-yard field goal as time expired capped a remarkable second-half comeback as the Arizona Cardinals opened their season with a 25-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles attempted to run out the clock but a pass from Doug Pederson went off the hands of Brian Finneran. Arizona safety Kwamie Lassiter reeled in the deflection and returned it 32 yards to the Philadelphia 43.
"I just ran down and was pretty open, reached back for the ball and the defender got his hand in there," Finneran said. "I could have come back a little more and made the catch. I should have made the play."
"I couldn't tell if it got tipped or not," Pederson said. "If we execute properly the game's over."
Plummer completed one pass for 13 yards and set up Jacke's winning kick with a 17-yard naked bootleg. It marked the ninth time in 27 games that Plummer has overcome a fourth-quarter deficit and rallied the Cardinals to victory.
"It seems like we've been in that situation an awful lot in the three years I've been here," Arizona coach Vince Tobin said.
"We've been behind in an awful lot of ballgames and our team has come back and found a way to win an awful lot of them."
"In the first half I was off," Plummer said. "It may sound funny but I was too quick on my drops. (Backup) Dave Brown helped me out. He told me to relax, slow down my feet and get some completions."
Duce Staley had a pair of first quarter touchdowns for Philadelphia, which has lost four straight games to Arizona. The loss spoiled the coaching debut of Andy Reid.
Following the game, Reid defended his decision to put the ball in the air late in the contest with the lead.
"I won't second guess (that call)," Reid said. "It was the right thing to do. If we make a play we are probably giving each other high-fives in here."
Jacke's kick could serve as an omen for both squads. Last season Jacke hit a 32-yarder in overtime at Veterans Stadium in December to spark a three-game winning streak that propelled Arizona to the playoffs for the first time in 16 years.
"I love these situations," Jacke said. "You go out there and do what you are paid to do. You get paid a lot of money to kick a game-winning field goal."
The loss was just another disappointing result in a season of struggles for the Eagles, who finished with 13 losses, the most in franchise history. For 15 minutes this afternoon Philadelphia, Pederson and Reid looked like they had all the answers.
Pederson directed the Eagles to a touchdown on their second possesion, engineering a seven-play, 59-yard drive that was capped by Staley's 24-yard run. After an interception by Plummer gave Philadelphia the ball at the Arizona 6, Pederson found Staley with a three-yard scoring toss.
On the ensuing possession Plummer again threw an interception and again Pederson cashed in, finding Luther Broughton with a tight end screen that went for 15 yards and a score. After scoring an NFL-low 17 touchdowns in 64 quarters, the Eagles had three in their opening 15 minutes.
Field goals of 31 and 25 yards by Jacke got Arizona within 21-6 but Norm Johnson converted a 25-yard field on the final play of the half to give Philadelphia a 24-6 advantage at the break.
The Eagles had nine of their 13 first downs in the opening 30 minutes and Pederson, making his first career start, was 10-of-17 for 73 yards and Staley had 55 yards on the ground.
But the second half was another story for both teams.
Arizona took the second half kickoff and moved 59 yards in 13 plays. Plummer was 6-of-8 for 49 yards on the possession, which culminated in a one-yard scoring plunge by Mario Bates. But Jacke's extra point was no good and Arizona trailed 24-12.
The Cardinals defense held but a punt pinned Arizona at its 4.
Plummer put together a masterful 16-play, 82-yard drive that chewed up more than seven minutes off the clock. The drive stalled at the Eagles 14 and Jacke converted a 32-yard attempt on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Trailing 24-15 with 6:26 to go in the contest, Plummer drove the Cardinals 80 yards in just five plays. The third-year quarterback relied on an unlikely target to get the job done.
Moore missed the entire preseason holding out but had three catches for 77 yards in the contest.
The Eagles took over with 4:03 to go and managed a first down.
But on the first play after the two-minute warning, Finneran failed to haul in Pederson's pass.
Plummer finished 25-of-48 for 274 yards and three interceptions.
Staley had his second career 100-yard game, finishing with 103 yards on 22 carries. Pederson finished 12-of-26 for 91 yards but was 2-of-9 for 18 yards and an interception in the second half.
"We came out in the second half and knowing we had that kind of lead, didn't want to let up. But we missed some opportunities and I missed some opportunities."