Arizona Cardinals clinch first playoff berth since 2009

Dec 15, 2014, 4:39 AM | Updated: 4:39 am
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It’s official.

The Arizona Cardinals have finally returned to the postseason. After four years of watching January football from the couch, the Cardinals will finally get to participate in the playoff party once again.

Since Sunday night’s Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles game did not end up in a tie, the Cardinals’ ticket to the playoffs became a certainty.

Arizona sits atop the NFC at 11-3, the team’s most wins since arriving in the Valley. The Cardinals have had to overcome numerous injuries on both sides of the ball, and will be forced to continue their “next man up” mantra into the playoffs.

A strong defense and a sensational rookie kicker have led the way for the Cardinals as they attempt to do what only nine teams have ever done before: win the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback. Starting quarterback Carson Palmer was lost for the season after tearing his ACL in a Nov. 16 win over the St. Louis Rams.

The last time the Cardinals made the postseason was in 2009, when Kurt Warner was under center and Ken Whisenhunt was at the helm. Arizona conquered Green Bay 51-45 in overtime in one of the most exciting playoff games of all time, before falling to New Orleans 45-14 in the divisional round. The loss to the Saints turned out to be the last game of Warner’s career. A year prior, he led Arizona, despite a 9-7 regular season record, to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl appearance.

The Cardinals still have some work to do in order to win the NFC West and clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Arizona will participate in Sunday Night Football on Dec. 21 at home against the 10-4 Seattle Seahawks before heading to San Francisco to take on the 49ers (7-7) on Dec. 28. Bruce Arians’ group needs just one win to set a club record — even considering the Chicago and St. Louis versions of the franchise.

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