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Looking Ahead

!The Cardinals used the No. 5 overall pick on LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.

  • WHAT: Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals
    WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 4, 3:15 p.m. (CT)
    WHERE: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
    SERIES: Cowboys lead series, 55-29-1*
  • The ghost of Christmas past. In perhaps the most frustrating loss of a season filled with them, the Cowboys fell to Arizona last year in ridiculous fashion (see below). This time, the matchup marks the beginning of the ever-important December schedule, a part of the season that has given the Cowboys some trouble in recent years. * Starting at quarterback for the Cardinals? For any team without a bona fide signal caller, this was the most important question of the offseason. Arizona failed to fill the position in the draft, but is considered a potential player in the Kevin Kolb sweepstakes. Word is, the Eagles would like a veteran defensive player in return for their promising backup quarterback. * Red vs. Blue. Since the Cardinals moved from St. Louis to Arizona, the Cowboys have always been a big draw for the franchise because of the large percentage of Cowboys fans in the Southwest. In some years, the Cowboys have even enjoyed a decided homefield advantage on the Cardinals' turf. Will that be the case this year given the uncertainty cast by the lockout and the Cowboys' struggles last season? Match-Up Worth Watching:
    !Anytime you play the Cardinals, the first order of business has to be stopping Larry Fitzgerald, who has played a role in beating the Cowboys in each of their last two trips to the desert. In 2008 he had five catches for 79 yards and a touchdown against them, and while he was held to just one catch in last year's contest, it happened to come at the worst possible time. The 26-yard grab from rookie quarterback John Skelton converted a fourth-and-15, improbably keeping alive Arizona's game-winning drive. This year the Cowboys' cornerbacks will need to play a 60-minute game.

Cardinals Draft Review:
Heading into April's lottery, it was clear that a lot of Cowboys fans coveted cornerback Patrick Peterson, who the Cardinals snatched up at choice No. 5 overall. He is expected to be an impact player right away, and should help solidify a pass defense that ranked 23rd in he league in 2010. On Day 2, Arizona added a running back in Ryan Williams who could push former first-round pick Beanie Wells, whose impact has been negligible. Tight end Ryan Houser, the third-round pick from Florida Atlanta, could soon replace four-year veteran Ben Patrick as the starter.

Last Meeting:
Poor David Buehler. Much of 2010 for the novice kicker was a dance of two steps forward, one step back, with this stretch standing out most of all. Just a week after he had kicked a last-minute field goal to beat the Redskins, he misses a gimmie extra point that would've put the Christmas night contest out of reach. As it turned out, Skelton's last-minute drive and Jay Feely's 48-yard kick as time expired upstaged the second-half heroics of Stephen McGee, Miles Austin and Marion Barber, who helped bring the Cowboys back from what was at one point in the second quarter a 21-3 Cardinals advantage.

One To Remember:
!Things went far better for the Cowboys on a Christmas night 15 years earlier, a Monday Night Football telecast in 1995 when they closed out a 12-4 regular season, their fourth consecutive NFC East title and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs by beating the then-division rival Cardinals handily. The final playoff tune-up before the Cowboys' run to Super Bowl XXX is best remembered as the career performance of No. 2 wideout Kevin Williams, who had nine catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns. That was also the night when Emmitt Smith broke John Riggins' record for single-season touchdowns, scoring his 25th of the year late in the fourth quarter en route to a 37-13 win.

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