Cards Pull Shocker In The Desert

Redskins' Albert Connell (83) sits on the turf after missing a fourth-down pass as Cardinals celebrate.
In 10 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, Aeneas Williams has excelled while the team failed again and again.

On Sunday, with a 103-yard fumble return of Stephen Davis' fumble in the first quarter, followed by a crucial interception, the six-time Pro Bowl performer set the tone for the Cardinals' stunning 16-15 upset of the Washington Redskins.

The second-longest fumble-return in NFL history will rank among Williams' most coveted moments as a player.

"It ranks even higher when you can do it against a very good team," Williams said. "It wasn't for nothing. We won the game and it makes it that much more enjoyable."

When the game ended, Williams celebrated with a double flip on the sideline.

"I have been around only two other people like Aeneas Williams in my life Mike Singletary and Walter Payton," Cardinals interim coach and longtime Chicago assistant Dave McGinnis said. "He's got it all, both on the field and in the way he lives his life."

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Game Summary

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  • The Redskins dominated the game on the ground and through the air - but they managed just one touchdown in Jeff George's first start at quarterback for Washington.

    "You've got to make touchdowns," George said. "You can't expect to be a Super Bowl-caliber team if you kick field goals every doggone time. They beat us. They made plays whenever they had to. Who cares how many yards we got in total offense? You score, what, 15 points? Come on. That's ridiculous."

    Martay Jenkins took the second-half kickoff 72 yards to set up Michael Pittman's 7-yard run for Arizona's other touchdown.

    The difference turned out to be Washington's botched conversion kick early in the second quarter.

    "You can't make the kind of errors we made and expect to win," Washington coach Norv Turner said. "There were a lot of key plays, and all we had to do was make one of them."

    Washington (6-4), coming off a 27-21 home loss to Tennessee on Monday night, had a 27-11 advantage in first downs and led 331-178 in total yards, but Arizona's defense tightened when it counted most.

    "I could care less how many yards they had," McGinnis said. "We had more points."

    The fiery McGinnis earned his first victory in his second game as interim head coach.

    "He has us believing we can win again," Williams said.

    The upset came two days before Maricopa County voters decide on a measure to build Arizona a new stadium.

    "The guys asked me, `Did you think about downing the ball?'" Williams said of his long fumble return. "No way. I looked at them and said, `Man, didn't you know there's an election on Tuesday?'"

    The only longer fumble return was 104 yards by Jack Tatum of Oakland against Green Bay on Sept. 24, 1972.

    Kris Heppner, the Redskins' third kicker this season, made field goals of 35, 28 and 29 yards, but his 33-yarder that would have given Washington the lead with 5:10 remaining was wide. Heppner also missed a 51-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter.

    "You expect to make every kick. I missed two today," Heppner said. "I made three, but it's still the fact that I missed two. You've got to forget about them. Hopefully, I'll still be around here."

    Davis rushed for 124 yards in 30 carries and scored for Washington.

    George, starting because Brad Johnson is out with a sore knee, completed 20 of 39 passes for 276 yards but was intercepted twice, once by Williams to set up Cary Blanchard's 30-yard field goal that put Arizona up 10-0 with 7:28 left in the first quarter.

    The Cardinals (3-6) survived two turnovers by Jake Plummer. He fumbled the snap at the Washington 9-yard line early in the second quarter, and the Redskins' Dana Stubblefield recovered.

    Washington then went 91 yards in 10 plays, with Davis bulling over from the 1. But on the conversion try, Joe Zelenka's snap skidded to holder Tommy Barnhardt, who couldn't catch it and had to fall on the ball, leaving Arizona ahead 10-9.

    In the fourth quarter, Plummer threw 42 yards to Davd Boston to the Redskins 17. But two plays later, Plummer's pass was picked off by Deion Sanders.

    Only Plummer's tackle at the Washington 47 saved a touchdown. Moments later, Heppner missed the 33-yarder.

    Jabari Issa's sack of George on third-and-goal at the 2 forced Washington to settle for Heppner's 29-yard field goal that cut the lead to 16-15 with 4:43 left in the third quarter.


  • Davis hurt his right wrist late in the third quarter and went to the locker room, but X-rays were negative and he returned to the game.
  • Plummer, Rob Moore and McGinnis went door-to-door in Tempe on Saturday to campaign for the stadium measure.
  • Intended receiver Frank Sanders said he was held by a defender on Deion Sanders' interception.
  • A poll published by The Arizona Republic on Saturday showed the stadium measure favored 53 percent to 38 percent.

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