MIAMI, Fla. — Duane Starks may have been demoted to the nickel cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals, but he was still making big plays Sunday in his hometown.
Starks made a game-changing interception in the third quarter, picking off an A.J. Feeley pass tipped by defensive end Peppi Zellner, and raced 41 yards for a touchdown, pulling the Cardinals within 12-10 and giving them life when they didn’t have much.
It wasn’t easy, since Starks had to go to one knee to catch the ball and get back up and outrun the Dolphins.
“Whatever it took to get there,” Starks said. “If I fell down and rolled over like 'Rover’ and get back up and still score a touchdown, it’s good with me.”
Starks also figured into the dramatic ending, when receiver Marty Booker beat Starks on a slant that went for 35 yards to set up Miami’s last touchdown.
Starks said it was zone coverage and he was expecting help inside.
“He made a good play, and they got in,” Starks said, before breaking into a grin thinking about the win. “You know how it is, when it’s over, it’s over.”
Guard Cameron Spikes and tackle Anthony Clement played for the first time since being benched against the Saints in Week 4, working in the fourth quarter until starters Jeremy Bridges and L.J. Shelton were sent back out for the game-winning drive. Coach Dennis Green said the move was offensive line coach Everett Lindsay’s choice.
“They did a solid job,” Green said of Clement and Spikes. “That was Evy, as he works with those guys, he wants them all to feel they can add to it.”
Many players from both sides got into a near-brawl on the field before the game, although it was broken up by coaches and officials before anything significant happened.
“I live and die for stuff like that,” said Cards defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, who had been part of such posturing in college when his Florida State teams did the same with the University of Miami. “I guess Miami was determined to come out there and try and bully us around.”
Speculation in Miami is that, with the loss to the Cardinals, the 1-8 Dolphins might fire coach Dave Wannstedt as the team goes into its bye week. “We’re all in this thing together,” Feeley said. “You can’t point fingers at the players. You especially can’t point fingers at the coaches.”
Wannstedt was clearly crushed by the loss.
“I am worn out right now,” Wannstedt said. “It’s never been as hard to win a game.”
The deadline for extending contracts and using some of the signing bonus as salary this year toward the salary cap — easing future hits on the cap — is today. But the Cardinals, content where they are on the cap, won’t rush to get an extension done with safety Adrian Wilson just to have it done today. The same goes for receiver Anquan Boldin.. . . Defensive tackle Wendell Bryant was inactive again.