The St. Louis Cardinals moved to Arizona in 1988, yet the Valley didn’t feel like a true NFL market until 2006.
That’s because after playing 18 seasons at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, the Cardinals finally got their own place — sparkling, new University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Not only did the game day experience for fans change with a move to a new home, so did the franchise’s fortunes. In 18 years at Sun Devil Stadium, the Cardinals posted a 64-80 home record (.444). Since moving in 2006, Arizona home wins have become a lot more frequent, to the tune of a 49-27 (.658) record.
Nestled on land just east of Loop 101 in between Glendale and Bethany Home Avenues, UOP Stadium will host its 100th Cardinals game Sunday night when Arizona hosts the Cincinnati Bengals.
“This is our tenth season at University of Phoenix Stadium and this will be our 100th sellout,” Cardinals president Michael Bidwill told Doug and Wolf Thursday morning on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I think when we started this journey, people were saying ‘gee, they might not sell it out at all, they might sell out one game, they might sell out one season.’
“We’ve not only sold it out, but we’ve created an atmosphere that is the most intimidating atmosphere to come into as a visiting team.”
To commemorate the milestone, here’ a look back the first 99 games at “The Nest.”
Top 5 Games
5. Bears 24, Cardinals 23 – Oct. 16, 2006 – The first Monday Night Football game at the new stadium was one for the ages — not because it was a great performance by the home team. Led by rookie quarterback Matt Leinart, the Cardinals jumped out to a 20-0 lead over the heavily-favored Bears, who came into the contest with a 5-0 record. Midway through the third quarter, the Bears got on the board via a 23-yard field goal by Robbie Gould. The Cardinals answered, getting a field goal from Neil Rackers later in the third to push the lead back to 20 points. Then the wheels fell off. A Leinart fumble was recovered by Mike Brown and returned 3 yards for a touchdown with just :08 remaining in the period. In the fourth quarter, running back Edgerrin James fumbled and that was returned 40 yards for a score by Charles Tillman to pull Chicago within six points at 23-17. The next Cardinals’ drive stalled and Devin Hester completed the comeback by returning a Scott Player punt 83 yards for a touchdown. Arizona still had time, and Leinart drove them into field goal territory, but Rackers missed a 41-yard attempt. The Bears had come back from a 20-point deficit despite turning the ball over six times and not scoring an offensive touchdown in the game. Legend has it, Cardinals head coach Dennis Green had quite the meltdown during his postgame press conference, but we can’t remember what he said. Kidding.
4. Cardinals 24, Eagles 20 – Oct. 26, 2014 – Two of the NFC’s top teams got together at UOP Stadium in a late-October showdown that lived up to the hype. The contest was close throughout, and the Eagles grabbed a 20-17 lead when Cody Parkey hit a 20-yard field goal with just 1:56 remaining in the fourth quarter. But the Cardinals weren’t done. On a 3rd-and-5 from their own 25-yard line, quarterback Carson Palmer hit a streaking John Brown, who made a great over-the-shoulder catch and outran two Philadelphia defenders for a 75-yard touchdown that put the Cards up 24-20. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles calmly drove his team down the field — gaining access to the red zone after a 19-yard completion to Jeremy Maclin to the Arizona 16 with :13 left. But the Eagles would go no further as the next three Foles’ tosses to the end zone were incomplete, including a last-ditch shot to Jordan Matthews, that was caught, but ruled out of bounds. The win was the third in a string of six in a row for the Cardinals, who finished with 11 wins and clinched an NFC Wild Card spot.
3. Cardinals 30, Cowboys 24 (OT) – Oct. 12, 2008 – An NFL game had never ended on a blocked punt in overtime, but that’s exactly what happened on this Sunday in Glendale. The game had a wild start — Arizona’s J.J. Arrington returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to put the Cardinals up 7-0. Tony Romo rallied the Cowboys, throwing two touchdown passes that gave Dallas a 14-7 lead in the third quarter. Then, it was Kurt Warner’s time to respond, and the veteran did, hitting Larry Fitzgerald on a 2-yard score and then Steve Breaston on an 11-yard strike to put the Cardinals back up, 21-14. Neil Rackers added a 41-yard field goal and Arizona had a 10-point bulge, 24-14, with 3:21 to go. Dallas wasn’t done. Romo hit running back Marion Barber on a dump-off pass over the middle. Barber broke it to the outside, broke a couple of tackles and out-manuevered Antrel Rolle to get into the end zone on a 70-yard play. The Cardinals could do nothing on their next drive, going backward in three plays, and had to punt. Romo then drove the Cowboys to the Arizona 34-yard line, and Nick Folk booted a 52-yard field goal with :04 left to force overtime. Dallas got the first possession and Chike Okeafor sacked Romo on first down for a 7-yard loss, putting the Cowboys behind the sticks. They’d end up having to punt and Sean Morey broke through and blocked Mat McBriar’s offering and Monty Beisel recovered in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. The win pushed the Cardinals’ record to 4-2. They’d go on to finish 9-7, win the NFC West and of course, play in the Super Bowl for the first and only time in franchise history.
2. Cardinals 51, Packers 45 (OT) – Jan. 10, 2010 – A week earlier, these teams met in what amounted to a meaningless regular-season finale and the Packers won 33-7. Seven days later, the two squads staged one of the more entertaining playoff games in recent memory. When Kurt Warner hit Larry Fitzgerald on an 11-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to give Arizona a 14-point lead, things looked pretty settled. That was far from the case as Aaron Rodgers engineered three different fourth-quarter touchdown drives to tie the game. The last ended in an 11-yard touchdown pass to fullback Spencer Havner with just 1:52 remaining. The game went to overtime, where the Packers got the first possession. A holding penalty on Green Bay’s Daryn Colledge backed the Packers up to their own 10-yard line. On 2nd-and-20, Rodgers hit James Jones on a 14-yard completion. On third down, Rodgers was sacked by blitzing cornerback Michael Adams (who probably got away with a facemasking penalty), forcing a fumble that was scooped up by Karlos Dansby and returned 17 yards for a touchdown to push the Cardinals to the next round of the playoffs. The game, which turned out to be the penultimate one for Warner, was arguably his best as a pro quarterback. He completed 29-of-33 passes for 379 yards and five touchdown passes.
1. Cardinals 32, Eagles 25 – Jan. 18, 2009 – The Cardinals had a strange season in 2008. They won the NFC West with a 9-7 record and clinched their first postseason spot since 1998. But they also suffered several blowout losses during the year — a 21-point road loss in New York to the Jets, a 28-point blowout on Thanksgiving night in Philadelphia and a 40-point embarrassment in snowy New England in Week 16. But maybe the weirdest part of the year was that by virtue of their own postseason play and some luck (Philadelphia beating the New York Giants), the Cardinals got to host the NFC Championship Game against Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. And it looked like it would be a cake walk. Kurt Warner threw three touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald in the first half to give Arizona a 24-6 lead at the break. But the Eagles regrouped at halftime and dominated the second half. McNabb threw two scoring passes to Brent Celek in the third quarter to shrink Arizona’s lead to five points. With under 11 minutes to play, McNabb hooked up with DeSean Jackson on a 62-yard touchdown pass that gave the Eagles a 1-point lead after a missed two-point conversion attempt. What happened next was pure poetry. The Cardinals, who had been known for their quick-strike offense led by Warner and Fitzgerald, went on a methodical march down the field — a 14-play, 72-yard masterpiece that took almost eight minutes off the clock. Early in the drive, Arizona faced a 4th-and-1 at the Philadelphia 49-yard line. Rookie Tim Hightower picked up six yards to move the chains. Later on, Hightower converted a 3rd-and-1 with a 5-yard run that gave the Cardinals a 1st-and-goal at the Eagles’ 9-yard line. So it was only fitting that on the next third down, Warner found Hightower, who bulled into the end zone from 8 yards out with under three minutes to play to give the Cardinals the lead. With time remaining, McNabb drove the Eagles to the Cardinals’ 47-yard line, but four straight incomplete passes killed the drive and allowed Arizona to punch its ticket to the Super Bowl in Tampa.
Facts and Figures on the First 99
• Cardinals preseason record: 7-13
• Cardinals regular season record: 49-27
• Cardinals postseason record: 3-0
• Cardinals overall record: 59-40
• Biggest Cardinals’ win (point differential): Arizona 47, San Francisco 7 – Sept. 27, 2015
• Worst Cardinals’ loss (point differential): Seattle 35, Arizona 6 – Dec. 21, 2014
• Highest-scoring game (combined points): Arizona 51, Green Bay 45 (OT) – Jan. 10, 2010
• Lowest-scoring game (combined points): Arizona 14, Detroit 6 – Nov. 16, 2014
• Most Yards Gained by the Cardinals in a single game: 552 – Nov. 25, 2007 in a 37-31 overtime loss to San Francisco
• Most Yards Gained by an opponent in a single game: 596 – Dec. 21, 2014 in a 35-6 loss to Seattle
• Most Yards Passing by a Cardinal: 484 by Kurt Warner – Nov. 25, 2007 in a 37-31 overtime loss to San Francisco
• Most Yards Passing by an opponent: 431 by Ryan Tannehill of Miami – Sept. 30, 2012 in a 24-21 Cardinals’ win
• Most Rushing Yards by a Cardinal: 154 by Andre Ellington – Oct. 27, 2013 in a 27-13 win over Atlanta
• Most Rushing Yards by an opponent: 165 by Adrian Peterson of Minnesota – Dec. 14, 2008 in a 35-14 Vikings’ win
• Most Receiving Yards by a Cardinal: 171 by Larry Fitzgerald – Dec. 30, 2007 in a 48-19 win over St. Louis
• Most Receiving Yards by an opponent: 253 by Brian Hartline of Miami – Sept. 30, 2012 in a 24-21 Cardinals’ win
• The Cardinals have beaten the St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks more than any other teams at UOP Stadium. They’ve beaten each six times.
• The Cardinals have beaten the Detroit Lions more than any other non-division foe at UOP Stadium, with five wins.
• In all, the Cardinals have defeated 23 teams at University of Phoenix Stadium since 2006. The eight teams they have not beaten in Glendale are the Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans.
• Arizona is 0-2 at UOP Stadium against the Bears and Giants and 0-1 versus the Buccaneers. The Bengals, Jaguars, Patriots, Jets and Titans have yet to play the Cardinals in a regular-season tilt in Glendale.
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- Bidwill: Cardinals coaching search will take time, looking for right fit