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Cardinals halt 17-game road losing streak

MIAMI (AP) -- Eight seconds into the game, the Arizona Cardinals
lost a fumble. They sputtered on offense, committed nine penalties
and blew a late lead.

The Miami Dolphins played even worse.

Ending a 17-game road losing streak, the Cardinals met their
match in ineptitude. They benefited from two pivotal second-half
calls and drove 70 yards in the final 2 minutes for a touchdown to
beat the Dolphins 24-23 Sunday.

Larry Fitzgerald caught the winning score on a 2-yard pass from
Josh McCown with 19 seconds left after a holding penalty against
Miami negated a sack and gave the Cardinals first and goal.

"That's how hard it is to win on the road," Cardinals
first-year coach Dennis Green said. "You hope to have good fortune
smile on you and catch lightning in a bottle, and today that
happened for us."

The road win was the first since Oct. 6, 2002 for Arizona (3-5).

For Miami (1-8), which has the league's worst record, the latest
loss came amid speculation fifth-year coach Dave Wannstedt might
soon be fired. If owner Wayne Huizenga is going to make a change
during the season, this would be the logical time with the Dolphins
heading into their bye week. Defensive coordinator Jim Bates is
considered a likely choice as interim coach.

When asked about his status, Wannstedt praised his team's
effort.

"You go four years and win over 10 games a year, and it's taken
for granted," he said. "We did not play any harder when we were
winning 10 and 11 a year, I promise you that. We did not play any
harder than we did today. That's what rips your heart out."

Huizenga declined to comment.

Arizona rallied twice in the second half, overcoming a 12-3
deficit with 18½ minutes left after Miami quarterback Jay Fiedler
was sidelined with a shoulder stinger.

The Dolphins committed 12 penalties and dropped at least three
passes and two potential interceptions. The margin of defeat was a
missed extra point in the first quarter by Bill Gramatica, signed
Friday because Miami's two other place-kickers are hurt.

Losing to Arizona reminded tight end Randy McMichael of a defeat
at Cincinnati in September.

"We've lost to two of the worst franchises in football this
year," McMichael said. "What does that say about us?"

Fan apathy in Miami reached a new low. The game was a sellout,
but the stadium was less than half full on a balmy, 80-degree
afternoon.

The players hardly looked disinterested, however, and the two
teams even squared off in a confrontation during pregame warmups
that included shouting and finger-pointing before officials
intervened. More than two dozen players were involved, but no one
was penalized.

There was more excitement at the finish. A.J. Feeley led the
Dolphins to 11 points in the final 8 minutes after they fell behind
17-12. Sammy Morris' 1-yard run put them ahead 23-17 with 1:56
left.

"We weren't shook by that late score," McCown said. "Our
heads were never down."

McCown got the winning drive started by running for 9 yards on
fourth-and-8, and he hit Fitzgerald for 48 yards to the 3. McCown
was sacked at the 15 on third and goal, but a holding penalty on
cornerback Sam Madison gave the Cardinals a first down, and they
scored two plays later.

Arizona's first touchdown came when Duane Starks intercepted a
deflected pass by Feeley and ran untouched 41 yards to the end
zone.

"We finally got a shot of B12 by the defense when they
scored," running back Emmitt Smith said.

It was the fifth time an interception has been returned for a
touchdown against Miami this season, including three thrown by
Feeley.

Then came a key call with the Cardinals on the move. A penalty
on Patrick Surtain for roughing the passer with a helmet-to-helmet
hit negated an interception by Miami, and when Jason Taylor kicked
the ball while disputing the call, he was flagged for
unsportsmanlike conduct.

Instead of losing possession, the Cardinals gained 30 yards to
the Miami 16, and four plays later Smith scored on a 5-yard run for
a 17-12 lead.

"They say players decide the outcome of the game," McMichael
said. "That didn't happen today. ... I'm not going to say who did,
but you can read between the lines."

Game notes
Miami WR Marty Booker hurt his right ankle and G Jeno
James hurt his left knee. Arizona coach Dennis Green said his team
had no significant injuries. ... The Cardinals beat Miami for the
first time in their nine meetings.