GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kevin Kolb lost the fight for the Cardinals' starting quarterback job, then said there's no time to sulk in the NFL.
How right he was.
Less than four quarters into the season, Kolb was on the field leading the Arizona Cardinals to a 20-16 season-opening victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
It was a triumph that came despite a mistake by the NFL's replacement officials that gave Seattle a timeout with 30 seconds left when, in reality, the team had none remaining.
Kolb replaced the injured John Skelton, operating the no-huddle offense to near perfection, to lead Arizona on the deciding touchdown drive. He threw 6 yards to Andre Roberts for a score with 4:59 to play, and the Cardinals withstood a frantic, last-second Seattle charge.
"It was pretty special, I'm not going to lie," Kolb said.
Aided by two pass interference penalties, Seattle drove to the Arizona 4-yard line in the final seconds. But rookie Russell Wilson threw three straight incompletions, and the Cardinals held on.
"I felt great about the opportunities we had," Wilson said. "We put ourselves in a good position. We just fell short. That is going to happen a few times."
Adding to the late-game confusion, Seattle called a timeout with 30 seconds to go when it appeared it had none remaining. Two plays earlier, the Seahawks had a player hurt and should have lost their final timeout in the process.
But referee Bob Hermansen announced to the crowd that because the clock had stopped on that play, no timeout was taken from Seattle. Therefore, the Seahawks still had one to call when Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called it.
After the game, Hermansen issued a statement saying he had made a mistake.
"It was my error," he said. "We gave them (the Seahawks) the additional timeout because of the incomplete pass stopping the clock before the injury occurred when, in effect, the clock has no bearing on the play at all, whether it's stopped or running. We should not have given them the additional timeout."
Kolb, who found out nine days earlier he had lost out to Skelton in the competition to start at quarterback for Arizona, was 6 of 8 for 66 yards on the winning drive.
"He just got in rhythm and ripped some balls in there," Carroll said. "We were all over every one of those throws. He is a gunslinger, he has always been like that. He just came in and was shooting from the hip and did a great job."
There were a few boos from the crowd when Kolb entered the game.
" I really didn't hear it until somebody said it to me in the locker room," he said. "It went from boos to cheers in a matter of three plays, but that's the way this league is."
Wilson, who beat out Matt Flynn for the starting quarterback job, completed 18 of 34 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once.
"I thought Russell battled," Carroll said. "They pressured a lot and made it tough on us but he hung in there, came back, and did a very nice job getting us back into the game in the second half. "
Marshawn Lynch, questionable for the game after a sore back limited him in practice, carried 21 times for 85 yards.
Seattle scored 13 consecutive points to go up 16-13 on Steven Hauschka's 39-yard field goal, and Arizona's offense had done nothing in the second half.
Then, on a 17-yard pass to Roberts, Skelton was hit and crumpled to the ground with an injured right ankle. Skelton was carted off the field and Kolb promptly overthrew Larry Fitzgerald. But he completed six of his next seven throws, the last to Roberts, who stretched the ball over the pylon on the left sideline. A pass interference penalty against Seattle's Richard Sherman aided the drive.
Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt was running along the sideline trying to call a timeout as Kolb ran what proved to be the winning play.
"I didn't make it, thank goodness," Whisenhunt said. "Thank God for small favors, right?"
He said he didn't know how serious Skelton's injury was.
"We'll know more information tomorrow, whether it's a high ankle sprain," Whisenhunt said. "Hopefully, that's what it is, but I don't know."