In a season that no one could have possibly expected, the Cardinals took it to the wire on Sunday at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, and once again playing the role of underdogs walked out a winner in a 32-25 victory to move on to the Super Bowl vs the Steelers.
The game was the most emotional in Cards history, as the team built on the energy of the home crowd to go up 24-6 at the half, and then came back with a huge game-winning drive to put the finishing touches on the win.
The NFC championship could not have come without the play of wide out Larry Fitzgerald, who caught three touchdowns on the day and had 9 catches for 152 yards with the three scores. All three TD’s came in the first half, as the Cards built the big lead, only to see the game Eagles rally in the second half.
Led by Donovan McNabb, the Eagles scored a touchdown on a pass from the QB to Brent Celek for 6 yards to make it 24-13 with 4:08 left in the third quarter. Then Celek scored again with 0:49 left in the quarter on a 31-yard TD that made it 24-19 after David Akers missed the extra point.
Philly took their only lead of the game when McNabb went deep on a tipped ball to DeSean Jackson that was a circus catch that gave the Eagles a 25-24 lead at the 10:45 mark. Arizona then went on their biggest drive of the year, capping it with a Kurt Warner TD pass to Tim Hightower on third down from 8 yards out to make it 30-25. The team went for two, and got it when Warner hit Ben Patrick to make it 32-25 with 2:53 left.
The final chance for the Eagles ended at the Cards 47 when McNabb threw four straight incomplete passes against the tough Cards defense. The last pass saw the ball go incomplete to the right, and the crowd at the University of Phoenix Stadium go nuts with the team reaching its goal – a trip to the Super Bowl.
Warner was 21-for-28 for 279 yards with four TD’s and no picks, and a QB rating of 145.7. Edgerrin James again paced a solid running game that had 73 yards on 16 carries, a 4.6 yards per carry average. Warner spread the ball to nine different Cardinals receivers.
McNabb had a solid game in the comeback effort for the Eagles, as he threw for 375 yards and three TD’s with a pick on 28-for-47 passing. The Cards did a good job vs Brian Westbrook, holding him to 45 yards on 12 carries, as the Cards made sure with the big lead to have the Eagles throw often.
Now it’s off to the Super Bowl, and all the hype that will surround it. It will be Cards coach Ken Whisenhunt vs his old team, as the Steelers topped the Ravens for a chance for their second title in four seasons. The Steelers are an early 6.5 point favorite.