Dave Krieg and Garrison Hearst gave Arizona a last-minute lift and Eric Swann's return on defense helped the Cardinals end a three-game losing streak and prevent Arizona Coach Buddy Ryan from tying his longest losing streak.
Krieg completed a one-yard touchdown pass to Hearst with 76 seconds remaining on Sunday as the Cardinals beat the Washington Redskins, 24-20.
Starting at the Redskins' 42, Krieg passed eight yards to Hearst, who then carried the ball five consecutive times.
"It's nice to have a guy like Garrison who can get you three or four yards and first downs," said Krieg, who completed 22 of 33 passes for 207 yards.
A five-yard penalty moved the ball to the 21 before Krieg completed a pass to Frank Sanders for 20 yards. After one carry, Hearst swung into the left flat and caught the winning pass.
"Headache after headache," Hearst said in describing his battering-ram style in the final drive. "But the guys kept putting people out of the way. I'm not going to turn the ball down."
Swann, a defensive tackle making his first start since knee surgery Sept. 12, returned in a big way, surging past Vernice Smith to stop Terry Allen for a seven-yard loss on the first play of the game and then helped the Cardinals preserve their victory.
After the kickoff following Krieg's touchdown pass to Hearst, Washington quarterback Gus Frerotte moved the team to the Arizona 39 and spiked the ball with 21 seconds left.
Swann, who had 1 1/2 sacks, sacked Frerotte on the next snap, but it was negated by a five-yard penalty on the Cardinals. Then Swann hurried Frerotte into grounding the ball with eight seconds left. If such a penalty occurs with two minutes or less left in the game, officials run off 10 seconds from the clock. So the game ended on that play.
"We're not in a slump anymore," Swann said. "We're back on top again, and we know what we can do."
On the previous possession, Frerotte overthrew a wide-open Henry Ellard on a long pass.
"I looked out to Henry, and he was wide open," Frerotte said. "I thought I put enough air under the ball--it was even fluttering out there--but it was just out of his reach."
Greg Davis had a 24-yard field goal for Arizona (2-5), which led twice before--at 10-7 after Aeneas Williams returned an interception 28 yards and 17-13 on Larry Centers' nine-yard run in the third quarter.
Frerotte connected with Ellard on a 46-yard touchdown pass play and had a 29-yarder to Coleman Bell, and Eddie Murray kicked field goals of 38 and 25 yards for the Redskins (2-5), who beat Arizona, 27-7, in their season opener.
The game was the first NFC rematch of the season and the Cardinals' first division victory in five tries. But it appeared the Cardinals would embarrass their dwindling base of fans once more before a crowd of 42,370.
They took the opening kickoff of the second half 85 yards in 13 plays to go ahead. But Arizona rookie Simon Shanks was assessed a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff, setting up a 53-yard drive that put Washington up, 20-17.
Swann's effect was dramatic. The Redskins gained 456 yards in their opening victory, when Swann and his teammates were out of sync.
This time, he was the stopper the 27th-ranked unit needed. Washington had 259 total yards, exactly what it gained rushing on Sept. 3.
"I can't say enough about him," linebacker Eric Hill said about Swann's return. "He makes me a lot better. He makes Seth, Clyde [Simmons] and all the rest of the guys a lot better."
Krieg's 207 yards gave him 33,562 career yards moving him into 10th place among NFL quarterbacks.