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Hard-fought loss
Cardinals regroup, edge forlorn Falcons 30-27 in overtime

GLENDALE, Ariz. - A sore hip and a dislocated toe haven't stopped Anquan Boldin. The Atlanta Falcons didn't either.

Boldin's big game and a pair of timely field goals by Neil Rackers made the difference Sunday as the Arizona Cardinals sent the forlorn Falcons to their sixth straight loss, 30-27 in overtime.

Boldin caught 13 passes for 162 yards, two of them for touchdowns. His spectacular one-handed grab set up Arizona's third TD.

'He's just a special, special player,' Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner said.

During the game, Boldin reached 400 career catches quicker than any other player in NFL history. He's done it in 67 games. The previous best was Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow in '72.

'It's been tough,' Boldin said. 'I've been dealing with injuries throughout the season, but the coaches still believe in me. It's a game I love to play, and any time I have the chance to play I'm going to do it.'

This was one of the most difficult losses in an Atlanta season that's been full

of them.

Chris Redman rallied the Falcons from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to take a 27-24 lead with 1:38 left in regulation.

But Arizona's offense, sputtering since halftime, came alive and Neil Rackers' 29-yard field goal tied it at 27 as the fourth quarter ended. The Falcons called heads on the subsequent coin flip. It came up tails, and the Cardinals moved down the field for Rackers' game-winning 31-yarder.

'I just wanted to break down and cry, because we can't get any breaks,' said Atlanta wide receiver Roddy White, who caught 12 passes for 141 yards. 'We never get any breaks. Somebody up there doesn't want us to win any football games.'

It was an inspiring, if futile, effort by an Atlanta team that saw its coach Bobby Petrino pack up and leave for Arkansas with two games to play. And the Falcons (3-12), of course, had dealt with the loss of star quarterback Michael Vick all season.

Atlanta had been outscored 71-17 in its previous two games.

'Despite what people say, we haven't given up all year long,' linebacker Keith Brooking said. 'Guys continue to fight. It's just hard for me to explain this season for one, and today for two. It's just not meant to be.'

The close game was routine for Arizona. Twelve of the Cardinals' games this season were decided by eight points or less.

'I've been asking myself this question for a long time: Why do we have to make it an ESPN Classic every time we play,' linebacker Calvin Pace said. 'I guess that's the way we like to play. We are one of the younger teams in the NFL, and I think that shows sometimes.'

Rackers saw the game as redemption. He missed what would have been a game-winning 32-yard field goal a month ago in an overtime home loss to San Francisco.

'Ironically, they were about the same distance as the San Francisco game, and I put them through,' he said. 'Maybe that was the big man's way of giving me a Christmas gift.'

With a victory at home next Sunday against St. Louis, Arizona (7-8) would have its best record since going 9-7 and making the playoffs in 1998. It would be just the third time since 1984 that the Cardinals have not had a losing season.

Redman, starting for the third straight week, engineered Atlanta's comeback, going 28-for-42 for a career-high 315 yards and two scores with one interception.