To borrow a line from Cards play-by-play man Dave Pasch, the Cards 51-45 playoff win over the Packers was…….
By the third quarter the game had the same feel as the Cardinals NFC Championship victory last year over the Eagles. By the time much-maligned defensive back Michael Adams forced a fumble by Aaron Rodgers and Karlos Dansby returned it for the game winning touchdown it felt bigger than that.
It felt like a modern day version of the classic game in Miami between the Dolphins and Chargers on January 2nd 1982. I was just as old then as my son is now, and I suspect he’ll remember this game with same fondness.
Put simply: I don’t know if I’ll ever see a game as good as that as long as I live.
And in a game that featured the most combined points, touchdowns and first downs in playoff history, and the second most yards in a playoff game, isn’t it ironic that it was won on a defensive touchdown (Alanis Morissette would think so).
But in trying to tell you what I thought about yesterday, I’m struggling. I can’t wrap my arms around it. There was just so much to look at and think about and love and hate and then love again. It’s just too big. So instead, I’ll break it up into little pieces and carry it up the tree that way (apologies to The White Stripes).
Kurt Warner: More touchdown passes than incomplete passes. More touchdown passes than Joe Flacco completions earlier in the day. A near perfect passer rating on the day (154.1, perfect is 158.3). Talk of a potential retirement acted like a blackout shade for my otherwise sunny mood earlier in the day. Now, it seems so far off so I guess I won’t worry about it…yet. But he made it clear he’ll revisit the topic at the end of the playoffs.
Michael Adams: You’ve heard of The Shawshank Redemption? How about the Packer Redemption? In one moment, Adams was more than forgiven for a games worth of bad plays.
The Wide Receivers: Sick catches by Greg Jennings, Larry Fitzgerald (no lie – when Fitz made that catch for a touchdown half the press box turned to look at his father just to see his reaction). Jermichael Finley averaged 26.5 yards per catch. Steve Breaston got the ultimate compliment from Kurt Warner (Warner said after the game he told his receiver earlier in the year that he’d line up with Breaston any day of the week). And Early Doucet (whom a certain talk show host – me, me, me – told you would play a big factor in this game). And if you mention Doucet you have to mention…..
Anquan Boldin: Let’s not call Doucet the next Boldin; that would be prematurely stupid. But once again the Cardinals made it perfectly clear….they can win without Q (7-1 the last two years I believe). Another big win without Q just reinforces the argument they don’t need him.
Neil Rackers: Perhaps the happiest man on earth. He flat-out choked. No other way to describe it. This year he was 6-6 on field goals between 30-39 yards. Until Sunday.
Karlos Dansby: Game changer.
Beanie Wells: 14 carries, 91 yards, a 6.5 yards per carry. One-dimensional Cards offense my butt.
Coin Flip: Tails never fail. But I guess in this case they did. If ever there was a game where the winner of the coin flip would win the game it was this one. It didn’t work out that way, so I suppose the NFL Sudden Death Overtime works just fine.
The Cards Defense: Left a real bad taste in your mouth. Left you wondering how badly Drew Brees will carve them up next week. But don’t forget, the Packers scored only 10 points in the first half (largely due to turnovers). The Cards got a ton of pressure on Rodgers early in the game and clearly had him rattled. That pressure vanished in the second half and Rodgers burned them. In particular, Byrant McFadden had that burnt-toast look all day.
University of Phoenix Stadium: The same building that delivered Boise State/Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl and the Patriots/Giants Super Bowl came through again.
The Fans: You were loud. Very loud. Honestly, I hardly noticed the Packer fans. Sunday was the last Cards game to be played at UOP this year. You all acquitted yourselves well.
Ken Whisenhunt: Pay the man. Extend the contract. He’s worth it.
The Arizona Cardinals: People want to compare the disrespect of last year to this year but I don’t buy it. Last year the Cards came into the playoffs with the tagline “The Worst Playoff Team Ever.” They should have been mad about what was being said about them last season. This year was different. Nobody doubted the Cardinals belonged in the playoffs. Most of the national types (heck all of them at ESPN & FOX) just thought the Packers were the better football team. Some even believed the Cards had to win this game to validate this 10-win season (pure foolishness). Maybe nobody picks them next week in New Orleans but that doesn’t matter; they’re in a good spot to go to their second straight NFC Championship Game.