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Cardinals hand Titans costly loss

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 10: Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans looks to make a pass in the first half of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Phil Dawson kicked four second-half field goals, and the Arizona Cardinals shut down Tennessee’s offense nearly all day Sunday in a 12-7 victory over the Titans, who had entered the game leading the AFC South.

Dawson connected from 47, 23, 32 and 35 yards and missed from 40 for the Cardinals (6-7), whose victory came two weeks after they beat then-AFC South leader Jacksonville on the same field.

The Cardinals intercepted Marcus Mariota twice in the second half after the Titans (8-5) nursed a 7-0 lead at halftime.

Mariota completed 16 of 31 passes for 159 yards. Tennessee managed 65 yards rushing against the Cardinals after gaining 198 o the ground in a win over Houston a week ago.

Mariota was 6 of 16 for 60 yards with two picks in the second half.

The Cardinals gained 64 yards in the first half and 197 in the second.

Blaine Gabbert completed 17 of 26 for 178 yards for Arizona with no interceptions, but was sacked eight times, most by a Cardinals quarterback this season. Kerwynn Williams rushed for 73 yards as Arizona outgained Tennessee on the ground 136-65.

The lone score of the first two quarters came after Andy Lee’s 33-yard punt gave Tennessee the ball at the 50. The Titans needed nine plays, Derrick Henry sweeping right and diving at the pylon on the 6-yard touchdown play.

Mariota directed the Titans on a drive from their 26-yard line to the Arizona 40 in the final 49 seconds of the half, but Ryan Succop’s 58-yard field goal try bounced off the crossbar.

Arizona took the second-half kickoff and, despite Tennessee getting two sacks, got a 47-yard field goal from Dawson to cut the lead to 7-3.

Then came a big Tennessee gamble that failed.

After the subsequent kickoff, the Titans faked a punt on fourth-and-1 from their 35. Initially, officials ruled that Eric Weems had made the first down. But Arizona coach Bruce Arians challenged the spot and, after a review, it was determined the runner came up a few inches short.

The Cardinals took over and Dawson’s 23-yard field goal cut the lead to 7-6.

Dawson missed a 40 yarder that would have given the Cardinals the lead with 12:04 to play. But the 42-year-old kicker would get another chance.

Rookie Chad Williams ran 33 yards on an end-around to ignite an eight-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in Dawson’s 32-yard field goal to put Arizona ahead 9-7 with 5:59 to play. Gabbert overthrew a wide-open Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone on third down to force the field goal.

Josh Bynes intercepted Mariota over the middle on the next possession and returned it 25 ards. A late-hit penalty against the Titans play moved the ball to the Tennessee 7. Jurrell Casey’s second sack of the game forced yet another field goal by Dawson, good from 35 yards to finish the scoring.