Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

Overtime victory in the Cards, and the coin

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona's overtime win over the Packers on Saturday night featured much more than Aaron Rodgers' latest Hail Mary and the Cardinals' "Hail Larry."

There was a coin flip that didn't flip, Patrick Peterson's 100-yard interception return that didn't count and Randall Cobb's one-handed 51-yard catch called back by offsetting penalties and much, much more.

It was a bizarre night in the desert when the Cardinals escaped with a 26-20 overtime win.

And that's not even counting Rodgers' jaw-dropping Hail Mary TD pass to tie it at the end of regulation or Larry Fitzgerald's 75-yard catch and run to set up his winning score.

The coin toss going into overtime was a "debacle," Rodgers said.

He called "tails" and referee Clete Blakeman tossed the coin into the air and it fell to the turf.

Rodgers said he got an explanation from Blakeman.

"It was just tossed in the air and did not turn over at all and landed on the ground," he said.

"So we obviously thought that was not right. He picked the coin up and … he flipped it (again) without giving me a chance to make a recall there. It was confusing. I think he was trying to avoid the embarrassment of what just happened and flip it quickly."

The coin landed on heads — both times — and Arizona got the ball to start the overtime.

And the league said Sunday that there was no need for a repeat of the coin flip.

While there's no rule specifying the need for another flip, referee Clete Blakeman used his judgment to determine that "basic fairness" dictated that the coin should be re-tossed, league spokesman Michael Signora said.

Rodgers said after the loss that he would have called "heads" on the second toss. But Signora said Sunday in an email to the Associated Press that a team "gets only one choice to declare heads or tails."

After all that was settled, Fitzgerald, in his 12th season with the Cardinals, made the difference.

The 32-year-old receiver, who set a franchise record with 109 catches this season, broke a handful of tackles as he made his way 75 yards to the Green Bay 5 after catching a pass from a scrambling Carson Palmer.

Two plays later, Fitzgerald lined up in the backfield and took a shovel pass for the winning score.

"I can't tell you how many times I've run that shovel in practice and just waiting for my opportunity," Fitzgerald said, "and lo and behold, the second round of the playoffs you get your number called on a shovel. My eyes lit up in the huddle."

The stadium rocked with chants of "Lar-ry! Lar-ry!" and the Cardinals were headed to the NFC Championship Game against Carolina.

Also, Packers receiver Randall Cobb was released from the hospital Sunday; he left Saturday's game with a chest injury. The Packers' leading receiver posted on Twitter that he was discharged from a Phoenix-area hospital after an overnight stay for observation. Cobb was hurt in the first quarter after stretching out for a diving catch, which was nullified by a penalty.

"Thank you for all the prayers and support," Cobb wrote.

Headset issue again: Chiefs coach Andy Reid said his team experienced problems with their headsets during Saturday's playoff loss at New England, though they worked fine in the crucial final minutes.

Reid said the problem occurred in the first half between the coaching staff and the radio in quarterback Alex Smith's helmet. But Reid said they cut out "just a little bit, not much," and did not think that they were anything out of the ordinary.

It's not the first time headsets have been an issue at Gillette Stadium. In the regular-season opener, Pittsburgh complained the coaches' headsets were filled with the Patriots' radio broadcast of the game. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin later said his coaches have had problems with headsets every time they play at New England.

Browns: New coach Hue Jackson indicated more clearly that the organization is leaning toward severing ties with troubled quarterback Johnny Manziel and addressing its glaring need at the game's most important position in the draft. In an interview Sunday with SiriusXM, Jackson said, "If there is a quarterback there at pick No. 2 or pick No. 32 (in this year's draft) that we feel is the best option, the best fit for our organization, our football team, then we need to go get him. I do believe that this team does need a quarterback."

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