The 5: Last playoff appearances for the Arizona Cardinals

Jan 16, 2022, 5:15 PM | Updated: Jan 17, 2022, 8:05 am
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) breaks away from Pittsburgh Steelers cornerba...
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) breaks away from Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor (24) and linebacker James Harrison (92) to complete a 64 yard touch down during the fourth quarter of the NFL Super Bowl XLIII football game, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla.(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

For the first time since the 2015 season, the Arizona Cardinals are in the playoffs.

And although it’s been over half a decade since their last postseason run, the Cardinals made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game last time out.

In fact, all but one of Arizona’s last five playoff appearances has seen the team win at least one game and advance to the Divisional Round.

And since the AFL-NFL merger in 1966, all eight of the Cardinals’ postseasons have featured at least one road game.

With that in mind ahead of Monday night’s Wild Card matchup against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium, here’s a closer look at Arizona’s last five playoff runs.

2015: NFC Championship Game

The last time the Cardinals were in the playoffs, they fell short in the NFC title game in a 49-15 road defeat to the Carolina Panthers and 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton.

That postseason also saw a 13-3 Arizona side get a first-round bye before one of the most memorable games in history at then-University of Phoenix Stadium.

Led by quarterback Carson Palmer, the Cardinals required overtime in order to beat the Green Bay Packers 26-20 on two passes to WR Larry Fitzgerald after QB Aaron Rodgers sent the game into OT on a last-second Hail Mary.

2014: NFC Wild Card Round

Unfortunately for Arizona, the aforementioned defeat to the Panthers in the NFC title game left a little bit of an extra bitter taste in the mouths of Cardinals fans.

That’s because it marked the second consecutive year in which Carolina ended Arizona’s season at Bank of America Stadium. But it was the way in which the 2014 Cardinals season transpired, which somewhat mirrored Arizona’s 2020 campaign.

After starting the season 9-1, season-ending injuries to Palmer and backup QB Drew Stanton derailed the Cardinals’ record to 11-5 and required Ryan Lindley to be the signal caller in a 27-16 road defeat to the Panthers.

The loss marks the only one-and-done postseason performance from Arizona since 1982.

2009: NFC Divisional Round

The Cardinals have only played in two overtime games in their playoff history, both of which have come at home in dramatic wins over the Packers.

In one of the craziest games to ever take place in Glendale, Green Bay came back from a 14-point deficit to force overtime in an NFC Wild Card matchup that famously ended on a Karlos Dansby touchdown after Rodgers kicked the ball into the Cardinals linebackers’ hands.

But unfortunately for Arizona, the following week saw the New Orleans Saints end the Cardinals season and QB Kurt Warner’s career after a vicious hit in a 45-14 road defeat in the NFC Divisional Round to New Orleans. The Saints would go on to win Super Bowl XLIV.

2008: Super Bowl XLIII

In what ended up being the late John Madden’s last game as a broadcaster, the Cardinals were less than a minute away from winning Super Bowl XLIII in a 27-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The game also featured historic plays such as Steelers LB James Harrison’s 101-yard touchdown return as the first half expired and Fitzgerald’s 64-yard catch and run to give Arizona the lead with 2:37 remaining.

Arizona had a pretty remarkable run to its only Super Bowl in franchise history. Despite going 9-7 in the regular season, the Cardinals won the NFC West and beat the Atlanta Falcons 30-24 in the Wild Card round before going on the road and upsetting the No. 2 seed Panthers in what was QB Jake Delhomme’s penultimate season in Carolina.

Because the Wild Card Philadelphia Eagles upset the No. 1 seed and defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the Cardinals hosted its only NFC Championship Game in franchise history.

And thanks to Fitzgerald’s single-postseason record of 546 receiving yards, 30 receptions and seven touchdown catches, Ken Wisenhunt and Co. topped Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb 32-25 en route to the Cardinals’ only NFC conference title.

1998-99: NFC Divisional Round

The 1998 season marked another first for Arizona, as it was the first time the Cardinals won a playoff game in franchise history since the 1966 merger.

After finishing second in the then-NFC East, a Jake Plummer-led Arizona team upset Dallas 20-7 with a Cowboys squad that featured Hall of Fame QB Troy Aikman, WR Michael Irvin and RB Emmitt Smith, all of whom had won three Super Bowls in four years earlier that decade. Smith also joined the Cardinals five years later for the final two seasons of his career.

But unfortunately for Arizona, the team’s first playoff winning streak would have to wait another decade after the late Dennis Green and his No. 1 seed Minnesota Vikings throttled the Cardinals 41-21 in the divisional round. Green was the head coach for the Cardinals from 2004-06, with his first year at the helm being Smith’s final season of his career.


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