Coach Ken Whisenhunt in but his second season with the franchise has them heading in the right direction. And who’d have thought that a journeyman quarterback who many had left for dead would be leading the team’s resurrection. Matt Leinart with his Hollywood looks and college football pedigree was thought of as being the franchise quarterback needed to lead the team. But instead it’s been left to two-time league MVP Kurt Warner to lead and lead by example.
Antonio Smith(94) and teammates Antrel Rolle (21) and Roderick Hood(26) celebrate Hood’s interception against the Carolina Panthers. The Arizona Cardinals would go on to win the 33-13. picture appears courtesy ap/photo/Ken Hambleton ………………….
Though not totally unexpected by their own fans Arizona’s complete and utter dismantling of the Carolina Panthers, was about as efficient and comprehensive as anyone could’ve wished to have seen from a team. And the play of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was outstanding. If he’s not the most dynamic player at his position within the league at present. Then I’d like for someone out there to tell me who is ?
The Carolina Panthers guided by coach John Fox had his team ready to play and no doubt ready to make their way to the NFC championship game without too much trouble or stress. What unfolded during the game gives us reason to believe that you should never count all of your eggs before they’re hatched. Panthers’ quarterback Jake Delhomme had one of those days at the office that no doubt he’d rather forget. As he was harassed and manhandled by the Cardinals’ defense. Cardinals’ defense ? Now there’s something that you don’t often see or hear.
Disheartened Steve Smith and teammate Brad Hoover seated on the sidelines during the waning moments of the game. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Roger Masterson …………………….
I, as an avid fan of the NFL was expecting to see Carolina prevail but little did I have in mind what millions of fans nationally witnessed in watching the game on network television. Never mind the fact that fans there in the Panthers’ home stadium were watching. Perhaps a shock to their system ? What unfolded was something that even the most fervent fan couldn’t have expected. Arizona set about beating the Carolina Panthers mercilessly and did in such a way that you’d be questioning which of the team was infact favored to begin with. The oddsmakers in Vegas most certainly had to have been offering favorable odds towards Carolina. But then again the guys in Vegas do tend to know that they’re doing the majority of the time.
Now for me to suggest that the result of this game would end up being 33-13 in a victory for Arizona. I’d dare say that a number of you would have felt that I’d been some top of the line narcotics. But since I don’t do anything of that nature . one can only surmise that this was just one of those rarities where the stars had to have aligned for the Cardinals on the day. In reality however they just completely outplayed their NFC counterpart in almost every facet of the game. So much so that their defense was simply outstanding and they offered the Panthers no respite. It was a rarity on this day where the Cardinals and their fans learnt what is was like finally to garner and gain the respect of their peers. Over the years the franchise has been often likened to a bottom feeder of the NFL. And the Bidwell family as the franchise owners were viewed as nothing more than vultures. Funny what success can then do to a change in attitude as to how an organization is viewed. Now the Cardinals await the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship game and are just one game away from gaining a berth in the Superbowl.
Kurt Warner acknowledges the applause of the crowd after the team’s 33-13 victoryy over the Carolina Panthers. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Ken Hambleton …………………………….
On this day it was all about the Cardinals and what they’ve achieved this season is a bye product of having a good coach and players who bought into his system. But it’s only that but the fact that their fans after so many years of futility have still seen fit to show their faith in the team. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that as hosts of the NFC championship game at their stadium in Glendale, Arizona . All of the tickets have been sold out. The fact that this all happened within 6 hours only leads me to believe that the fans there having been starved of success for so long are hoping for something special to happen this Sunday.
The task in facing the Eagles won’t be an easy one. As the Eagles themselves have had their own struggles this season. They’ve been able to overcome them and play with a great deal of resolve, as evidenced by their postseason displays. They made short work of the New York Giants and are looking to do the same with the Arizona Cardinals. But I doubt Andy Reid’s team will be looking that far ahead with regard to the Superbowl. They know that they’re facing a team in the Cardinals that after some long mean and meager years are on the threshold of doing something big. And if it means bursting the Eagles’ bubble once again. Then I’m sure that’s what they’ll be prepared to do. And in doing so, deprive Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid the one major prize that has eluded them professionally over the years. Five visits to the NFC championship notwithstanding and just one Superbowl appearance which ended in a loss. A loss now would for all sense and purpose be deemed a tragedy of monumental proportions.
Larry Fitzgerald hauls in a pass from Kurt Warner during the game. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Matt Isselman ……………
The loss to the New England Patriots was enough to damper the ardor the Eagles’ fans. And as alluded to previously a loss the Cardinals this time around would be viewed with immense displeasure to the fans and something of a failure within the organization. If this meant to be the Eagles’ year . Then they’re going to have to deal with the Cardinals with a great deal of efficiency. This is certainly not a team to be taken lightly as they’ve proven that they can play with the best of them.
For the Arizona Cardinals and their fans it would be viewed as divine intervention from up above. If nothing else they’ve languished for long enough within the depths of mediocrity, looking at long last to be viewed as a credible entity within the NFL. Scripted or unscripted stories like this when they come along are often viewed as heartfelt and warming to the heart.