Rod Hood, the Cardinals cornerback who has been overshadowed for the past couple of months by rising star Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, made the final defensive play to seal the game.
On fourth-and-10, Hood jousted with Eagles receiver Kevin Curtis on a pass that fell incomplete.
Hood appeared to bump Curtis before the ball arrived; Hood said their feet tangled.
Curtis appeared to have a chance to make the catch anyway, but the ball bounced off his hands.
“I tripped over his foot,” Hood said. “It was incidental. … That’s why they didn’t call it.”
Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said, “All I know is my guy went down.
“We didn’t get a call, so that’s unfortunate. But again, congratulations to them.”
DRC VS. JACKSON
With Rodgers-Cromartie covering him, DeSean Jackson, the Eagles’ top receiver and deep threat, didn’t make a catch until early in the third quarter.
By that time, the Eagles already were in a 24-6 hole.
A couple of plays later, Donovan McNabb fumbled after being sacked by Adrian Wilson, and the Eagles appeared to be done for the year.
But they battled back, taking a 25-24 lead on a 62-yard touchdown pass that Jackson grabbed away from “DRC” even though the Cardinals rookie was in good defensive position.
Jackson finished with six catches for 92 yards.
STOP AND GO DOWN
With nine seconds left and 93 yards from the Cardinals’ goal line, the Eagles tried one of those Cal-vs.-Stanford plays, with lots of laterals, in hopes of breaking off a miracle play.
“The trick-a-roo play,” Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said, adding the best strategy is to start knocking opponents down.
“We knew that play. We go over that stuff. We were ready for it.”
Dockett sure seemed ready when he scooped up an errant lateral.
Instead of going down to end the game – by the way, this meant sending his team to the Super Bowl – he tried to run with the ball.
Dockett said he wanted to score a (meaningless) touchdown to run up the score, the same way he suggested the Eagles did to the Cardinals on Thanksgiving night.
“I had one agenda on my mind, to score…”
Mercifully, Dockett was tackled at the Eagles’ 8-yard line.
KICKER’S TERRIBLE GAME
Eagles kicker David Akers helped cost his team the game.
Not only did he miss a 47-yard field goal, but he also had an extra point miss right. That cost the Eagles four points.
And by missing the extra point, the Eagles had to go for two points when they took a 25-24 lead in the fourth quarter.
They failed to convert. So Akers effectively cost the Eagles five points.
Akers also had a kickoff go out of bounds, giving the Cards the ball at their 40-yard line.
“I’m disappointed when I look at myself, but I don’t put everything into one basket as far as who I am.
“I feel like I let my teammates down.”
Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers leaped to his counterpart’s defense, saying, “He’s phenomenal…
“He had a rough day today, but that’s part of kicking.”
LABOY, SMITH INJURED
Linebacker/defensive end Travis LaBoy, whose season has been marred by injuries, left early with a biceps problem and did not return.
Antonio Smith came out in the third quarter with a knee injury. He was replaced by rookie Calais Campbell.
Smith returned midway through the fourth quarter.
“Just a little boo-boo,” Smith said. “I had some work done on it and was able to fight through it.”
There weren’t many dry eyes near where Kurt Warner met his wife, Brenda, over the front-row barrier after the game.
“It was just joy,” Warner said. “We were just telling each other that we loved each other.
“This is unbelievable, and there’s no one I’d rather share it with.”
CONTROVERSY ON KICKOFF
The Eagles nearly fumbled away a Rackers kickoff near the end of the first half.
Victor Abiamiri got too close to a short kickoff on the sideline and may have touched the ball just about the time he stepped out of bounds.
The officials ruled the ball went out of bounds (it didn’t, even though the player did) and that the play was not reviewable. Because they ruled the ball had touched an Eagles player before going out of bounds, the ball was not placed on the 40-yard line.
If there had been a replay, it’s not clear whether the Cardinals would have gotten the ball back.
That would have depended on whether the replay showed Abiamiri was out of bounds when the ball touched him.
If so, “The ball would be dead at the spot the ball hit the player out of bounds. … The outcome is the same,” official Walt Anderson said.
HOW’D THAT HAPPEN?
Rackers, who has been terrific on kickoffs this season with an assortment of booming drives, hard-to-field knuckleballs and short “pooch” kicks, was dumbfounded that the ball went out of bounds on one of his kickoffs.
The kickoff was a “right kick,” Rackers said, that started off “on the numbers” just like designed.
“All of a sudden it knuckled and ducked down … hit the ground and bounced straight sideways. I said, ‘What happened?’”
SECURITY ON TOES
With 13:00 left in the game, a fan ran onto the field from the south end zone.
He only made it to the 15-yard line before security personnel wrestled him to the ground.