The 5: Best Arizona Cardinals wins of the Bruce Arians era
The Bruce Arians era in Arizona is over.
Arians announced his retirement Monday, concluding what was the most successful run for the Cardinals since the team moved to the Valley in 1988. Of the four 10-win seasons for the Arizona Cardinals, three of those came under Arians, and for three years straight from 2013-2015.
With that, came several memorable wins, so what better time to look back than the end at some of the best wins for Arians with his time as head coach of the Cardinals.
Playoff win over Green Bay
With all that winning, it’s shocking to look back and realize the instant classic against the Green Bay Packers in the 2015 NFC Divisional Round was the only playoff win for Arians in Arizona.
The 26-20 overtime win was one of the best games in all of sports for the year, and unfortunately for the Cardinals, that had a lot to do with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers made one of the best throws in playoff history, a 41-yard Hail Mary touchdown to Jeff Janis as regulation time expired.
Funnily enough, Arians stamped his coaching style into that memorable play. He instructed defensive coordinator James Bettcher to blitz Rodgers, forcing him to make the nearly impossible throw.
With all of University of Phoenix Stadium still in shock, the Cardinals won a bizarre and possibly botched coin toss in overtime, and perhaps taking advantage of that state of emotion, had Carson Palmer throw a 75-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald on the first play.
After an incomplete throw to Fitzgerald, a five-yard touchdown sealed the game for Arians’ first win.
Ellington’s touchdown, Stanton’s dance in Seattle
Up three points in Seattle with 2:07 left on his opponent’s 48-yard line on third-and-four, Arians made one of the best play calls of his tenure in Arizona.
Palmer moved out left on the snap, quickly sprinted left and handed the ball off Andre Ellington, who went all the way down the sidelines for a 48-yard touchdown that sealed the win.
One of the loudest arenas in sports was eerily quiet as Ellington crossed the goal line, and perhaps the greatest additional camera shots ever were shown after the run.
We got befuddled Pete Carroll, followed by replays of the run, then Drew Stanton’s infamous dance and Carson Palmer’s thrust to the opposing crowd.
The 39-29 win ended in a 14-0 run by the Cardinals in the fourth quarter.
Statement win over Indy
The storylines were alive and well for Arians’ face-off with his former team in his first year in Arizona in 2013, but what would be talked about was his team letting the NFL know they were for real.
In a game in which the Colts were favored by three points, the Cardinals obliterated Indianapolis 40-11.
Fitzgerald had two touchdowns from Palmer less than 20 minutes into the game, and a pick-six by Karlos Dansby off Andrew Luck had the Cardinals in cruise control 24-3 midway through the second quarter.
Not only did that win get everyone’s attention, but it hurled the Cardinals in the hunt for an NFC Wild Card spot as a team no one would want to play in the postseason.
“A team that’s always 8-8”
Leave it to Arians to call an ugly 2014 12-6 game one of the best wins he’s ever been around.
With Carson Palmer already out, backup quarterback Drew Stanton injured his right knee and Arians had to rely on third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley to clinch a playoff spot after the Eagles would lose later that night.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Cardinals got the job done and also eliminated the Rams from playoff contention.
Known for being outspoken, Arians created headlines left, right and center with what he said after the win.
Arians said his special teams unit and defense were “lights out” and called the offensive line play “outstanding.”
Those quotes, of course, were nothing compared to the bombs he would soon drop after for a game in which the Rams’ defense was being heavily hyped up.
“Everybody wanted to talk all that stuff about how great their defense is; I think they saw a good defense tonight — it was in red and white,” he said.
“There’s an 11-3 team and a team that’s always 8-8. You figure it out.”
“Willie Mays catch”
If everyone watching the Cardinals hadn’t got the hint yet that Arians doesn’t like to play it safe, they knew after a 24-20 home win over the Eagles in 2014.
Down 20-17 with under two minutes to go, Arians followed an Eagles’ timeout on third-and-five by dialing up a 75-yard touchdown pass from Palmer to then-rookie John Brown that Arians called a “Willie Mays catch.”
After the game, it was revealed by Palmer that he had seen something at the line and decided to change it up and send Brown deep.
“Don’t play scared, play smart,” Arians would say after the game.
Arizona would have to sweat out the next Eagles’ drive, one that went 13 plays all the way down to the Cardinals’ 16-yard line before Nick Foles’ pass to Jordan Matthews in the end zone saw Matthews land out of bounds as time expired.