A 64-second play turned the game on its head as the Arizona Cardinals beat the New Orleans Saints 42-34 in a thrilling Thursday Night Football clash.
Deep in the second quarter, Saints stand-in quarterback Andy Dalton threw two pick-sixes in back-to-back drives that gave the Cardinals a 28-14 lead at half-time.
Following last Thursday’s dismal 12-7 win for the Commanders over the Bears – and with two of the lowest scoring teams in the league going head-to-head this week, fans could have been forgiven for giving this one a miss.
Instead, it was a feast of attacking football and aggressive defense, leading to one of the highest-scoring games this season.
The Saints took the lead after two minutes when Dalton threw a 53-yard pass to find Rashid Shaheed. Following a couple Cardinals field goals, Dalton threw his second touchdown in the second quarter, this time only three yards to Tayson Hill who powered over the line.
The Cardinals came back into it with a Keontay Ingram run-in and a two-point conversion with 2:28 on the clock. Then, the game fell apart for the Saints in the next couple minutes.
Dalton, with one of the most inconsistent performances in recent memory, threw a pass to receiver Marquez Callaway who bobbled the catch, letting Marco Wilson to intercept and run it in for six.
Just a minute later Dalton, under pressure, threw a loose pass. Isaiah Simmons pulled off a stunning one-handed catch before returning for 56 yards to pull the Cardinals ahead by 14 at half-time.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the second half, but after the Saints scored a field goal to reduce the deficit to eight, they failed with a last-minute onside kick and the Cardinals saw out the game.
For the Saints — and specifically for Dalton — it was a night where they were punished for their inconsistency. Dalton, who is playing in the place of the injured Jameis Winston, threw four touchdowns and 361 yards, but also threw three interceptions, of which two were returned.
The victory keeps hopes of a playoff spot alive for the Cardinals, who now sit 3-4 ahead of their trip to Minnesota to face the Vikings on Octoer 30.
For the 1-4 Saints, who will host the Raiders on October 30, any hopes of a playoff spot seem all but finished.