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Skelton steps up, leads Cardinals to another win

When we last saw John Skelton the Arizona Cardinals had
improved to 4-7, with the QB having led the team to three
wins in four games.

Kevin Kolb’s turf toe healed, though, and the second-year
pro was sent back to the bench. Sunday against the 49ers
his number was called again, and the Fordham product
didn’t disappoint.

Skelton came off the bench in relief of an injured Kolb to
complete 19 of 28 passes for 282 yards and three
touchdowns, leading the Cardinals to a 21-19 victory over
the San Francisco 49ers.

“That’s the role of a backup quarterback,” Skelton said.
“You never know when or where or how, but you’ve got to be
prepared.”

Sure, Skelton wasn’t perfect. He threw a pair of
interceptions, fumbled the ball once and led some
receivers into defenders. However, he improved as the game
went on and, without a doubt, exercised some “49ers
demons.”

Remember, this was the same team Skelton completed just
six of 19 passes for 99 yards with three interceptions
against just a few weeks ago.

“I think the last time I played [San Francisco] I was
forcing some stuff,” Skelton said of the first meeting.
“In this game, you just take what they give you.”

The 49ers noticed a difference in Skelton this time
around.

“He did a lot better than he did the first game,” safety
Dashon Goldson said in what have been the most obvious
statement of the day. “We were able to get our front seven
on him a lot, even four rushers were getting to him a lot,
and he got the ball out a lot quicker.”

That, apparently, was not something the visitors were
ready for.

“He surprised us a little,” safety Donte Whitner said. “We
expected him to come in and keep it basic, especially
after Kolb went out, but he did a good job filling in.”

Skelton did just that, finding Early Doucet, Larry
Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts for touchdown passes,
bouncing back from another trio of turnovers to get the
win.

“I think it really comes down to making a play,”
Whisenhunt said. “I think when he hit Early in the first
half it was a big play and he thought ‘hey, I can do
this.'”

Indeed, Skelton took some time to get going. The QB
completed just one of four passes in the first quarter,
but threw a perfect pass to Doucet for a 60-yard score in
the second quarter, a 46-yard touchdown strike to
Fitzgerald in the third, and the game-winning three-yard
score to Roberts in the fourth.

Not bad for a guy who didn’t get many practice reps this
week.

“It was great,” Fitzgerald said. “John is just a hard
worker and he was ready for the moment.”

Moving forward, it’s too soon to say whether or not
Skelton will be needed next week, as he entered Sunday’s
game only because Kolb suffered a blow to the head and did
not return.

If he does play, though, don’t expect the players to hang
their heads. Roberts said the team believes in Skelton
just as they do Kolb, and with the way the receivers made
play after play Sunday it’d be tough to find evidence to
the contrary.

“He’s won games for us, just like Kevin has, so we have
nothing but confidence in him,” Roberts said.