TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona’s defense did the damage, and Josh McCown finally came through with a couple of big plays to Larry Fitzgerald.

That was enough to give the Cardinals an ugly 20-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans, who were torn apart by injuries and buried by their own mistakes Sunday.

David Macklin returned an interception 61 yards for a touchdown and the Cardinals turned three Titans’ turnovers into 17 points. Neil Rackers kicked field goals of 33 and 24 yards to improve to 20-for-20 this season for the Cardinals, who trailed 10-0 in the first quarter.

Tennessee (2-5) was without quarterback Steve McNair because of back and ankle injuries. The Titans then lost running back Chris Brown with a shoulder stinger, and long snapper Ken Amato with a leg injury in the first half.

The Cardinals (2-4) clinched the victory after Karlos Dansby’s spectacular fourth-quarter sack of Billy Volek. Volek, who never saw the diving Dansby coming, fumbled and Dansby recovered at the Tennessee 34.

On third-and-10, McCown threw a dart over the middle to Fitzgerald, who scored on a 34-yard play to make it 20-10 with 5:20 remaining.

Volek, who threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Jones after the opening kickoff, left the game with a mild concussion. Jones went down with a right knee sprain on Dansby’s play.

Third-string quarterback Matt Mauck drove Tennessee downfield late in the game, but on fourth-and-one from the Arizona 12, the Titans chose to go for it rather than kick a field goal and cut the lead to seven. Mauck overthrew the receiver, and the Cardinals held on.

Arizona coach Dennis Green, whose career record after a bye week improved to 10-2, wouldn’t say all week whether McCown or Kurt Warner would start, but he went with McCown, who had thrown for 783 yards in the previous two games.

McCown and the offense struggled most of the afternoon, but the Cardinals’ defense took advantage of opportunities, then turned tough in the second half, holding Tennessee without a first down in the third quarter.

Still, Pacman Jones’ 32-yard punt return had the Titans in field goal range.

But with Amato out, backup snapper Robert Reynolds wobbled the ball past the holder on a botched 33-yard try that would have tied the game. Kicker Rob Bironis was stuffed for a four-yard loss to preserve Arizona’s precarious three-point lead.

In the third quarter, McCown threw to Fitzgerald for a 28-yard gain to the Titans’ 32. Anquan Boldin, without a catch after successive 100-yard receiving games, ran nine yards on a lateral pass from McCown to make it first and goal on the 20. The threat stalled, and Rackers’ 24-yard field goal put Arizona ahead 13-10 with 29 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Titans had a 194-60 yardage advantage in the first half, but it was a 10-10 tie thanks to two turnovers and six Tennessee penalties for 55 yards.

AP-ES-10-23-05 1956EDT


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