When the Arizona Cardinals take the field at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa against the Buccaneers Sunday, the stakes will be much different than the last time the team played there.
That’s because the last time was the biggest game in franchise history. Sunday, February 1, 2009, the Cardinals played the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII — a game the Cardinals actually led with under three minutes left.
Only six players who made that trip to Tampa are still with the organization, including wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald capped one of the best individual postseasons in NFL history in that Super Bowl with a two-touchdown performance. His second score, a 64-yard reception from quarterback Kurt Warner, gave Arizona a three-point lead with just 2:37 remaining in the game.
Despite his success in that game, Raymond James Stadium isn’t one of the Pro Bowl receiver’s favorite places.
“No, I don’t have any good memories from this stadium, at all,” Fitzgerald said Thursday. “Two losses. I’d love to be able to turn that around and get a win down here.”
The other loss happened in Week 9 of the 2007 season. The Bucs beat the Cardinals 17-10 as Arizona mustered only 23 rushing yards and Warner completed just 10-of-30 passes for 172 yards and threw two interceptions. Fitzgerald had four catches for 95 yards in the defeat.
There is one similarity between this trip to Tampa and the Cardinals’ last — the length of time the team is spending there. After a loss in New Orleans last Sunday, the Cardinals opted to travel straight to Florida instead of heading home to Arizona to practice. Inclement weather in the area has made their stay challenging, to say the least.
“It’s just an adjustment for us, we’d all love to be at home, in our normal routines and things like that, but they felt this was the best move for us, so we’ve got to deal with it,” Fitzgerald said.
“Like (Wednesday), guys could have said ‘the heck with it, it’s wet out here, it’s raining, we don’t want to be out here,’ but we had a good day’s work, we got better when it easily could have been a throwaway day.”