The Arizona Cardinals still have time to make memories that will last a lifetime against division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, on Sunday. And they still have time to surprise the league in the postseason. But AZRedReport.com jump-started the New Year, by listing the top-10 most memorable moments of a commemorative 2008. Did your favorites make the list?
1. Cardinals Make History
The Arizona Cardinals clinched the NFC West title in week 14 with a 34-10 win over the St. Louis Rams. The Cardinals had other chances to get the job done, but it was only fitting that the celebration took place at University of Phoenix Stadium. The victory over the Rams gave the Cardinals organization its first playoff berth since 1998. The division championship was the first title since 1975, when the Cardinals were in St. Louis and in the NFC East.
The early December performance, also assured the Cardinals their first home playoff game since 1947, in Chicago. This year’s team believed in what they were doing and was going to accept nothing less than a post season appearance. If the Cardinals take care of the Seattle Seahawks in the season finale, they will finish with a 9-7 record, which ties a team-best since moving to the desert.
2. A Special Kind of Performance
The Cardinals have struggled against good teams this season, but Sean Morey gave the Cardinals something to be proud of. A win against the Dallas Cowboys will permanently be etched in the Cardinals record books. Morey handed the Dallas Cowboys a 30-24 loss, in what was a thrilling overtime victory. Morey blocked a punt that Monty Beisel ran in for a 3-yard touchdown and the win. Morey’s blocked punt in the Cardinals win marked the first time in league regular season that an overtime finish was decided by a blocked punt.
The game’s finish sent the Cardinals into the bye with a two-game lead over the San Franciso 49ers, which at the time were the Cardinals closest competition.
3. Can’t Bring Boldin Down
The New York Jets might as well of punched Cardinals Nation in the stomach, when safety Eric Smith took out Anquan Boldin in the end zone. In week four, Smith made a violent hit on Boldin, who subsequently suffered a concussion and two facial fractures, one on each side of his face. Boldin would go through the surgery and the days after without pain medication.
Boldin would go on to sit out two weeks and rest during bye week to come back better than ever against the Carolina Panthers. The Cardinals would lose the game, but he would do his part with a pair of touchdown receptions.
4. Warner Getting Second Wind
Kurt Warner believed there was truly a quarterback battle to win last offseason. He showed up every day ready to push Matt Leinart for his starting role. Warner proved he still had something special to bring to the football field. After an offseason full of speculation, Warner took the field in week one against the 49ers. He would go on to grace the top-five in the league in almost every passing category. Warner is a shoe-in to win league MVP as well.
5. Arizona Starts to Show Off
The Cardinals started to have fun in week two against the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins, who had previously won just one game the season prior, returned to action a different team. But the Cardinals gained the novelty. On their opening drive, Warner went deep up the middle to Boldin for a 79-yard touchdown pass. The Cardinals would win 31-10 and show the league what they had up their sleeve.
6. When One Door Closes
Edgerrin James was sent to Exile Island in week nine, when the Cardinals opted for rookie running back Tim Hightower who, at that point, had already posted six touchdowns in seven games. James rooted on Hightower, who still carried James’ helmet to and from practice, but James felt the move was personal. It was hard to blame James, as he would receive just four carries in as many games.
The Cardinals looked genius in Hightower’s first career start. He registered more than 100 yards. But their decision is now being questioned. Last season, James was scrutinized for his 3.8 average. This year, he is at 3.5. But Hightower holds a measly 2.8, although he does have a nose for the end zone. Prior to week 17, he’s tallied 10 touchdowns on the season.
7. Five to Say Aloha
The Cardinals will send five playmakers to Hawaii for the 2009 Pro Bowl. The five mark the most Pro Bowl selections for the Cardinals since they sent seven in 1977. The trip will celebrate the third Pro Bowl for Boldin, third for Larry Fitzgerald, first for special teamer Morey, fourth for Warner and second for Safety Adrian Wilson.
Wilson is 1 of 4 active safetys with 15-plus career interceptions (18) and 15-plus sacks (18.5).
8. Unknown Brushes Shoulder Off
Hightower came to the Cardinals with a chip on his shoulder, which is one of the main reasons Ken Whisenhunt liked him. Hightower arrived in the desert from a small school and with a lot to prove. In week one, in his NFL debut, he ran in his first-ever career touchdown. He won Cardinals’ fans hearts when he still had the ball tucked under his arm in the locker room. Hightower would say the ball was going to his mother. His mom’s house would become crowded with nine other game balls and possibly more by the end of the year.
9. Breaston Emerges From Depth
When Boldin went down, Steve Breaston stood up. The No. 3 receiver proved he belonged to play in the same corps as Fitzgerald and Boldin, when he received for nearly 200 yards in Boldin’s two week absence. Breaston would go on to be a reliable target for the remainder of the year.
10. Three with Three Zeros Trailing?
Speaking of Breaston, he is 85 yards away from reach a 1,000-yard season. If he can pull this off in week 17 against the Seahawks, the Cardinals will be the fifth team in NFL history with three 1,000-yard receivers in a season.
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Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America, and the publisher of AZRedReport.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of several NFL players for Sixthman Communications. Her analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports.