Larry Fitzgerald; Brian Dawkins (Getty)
The first half of the NFC Championship Game was all Cardinals, ending 24-6. Larry Fitzgerald registered a trio of touchdowns, while the Eagles were kept to a pair of field goals. Kurt Warner was perfect through 30 minutes of play. He's two quarters away from his third Super Bowl appearance.
Larry Fitzgerald made the Eagles pay with three in-your-face touchdown receptions. On the opening drive, Fitzgerald plowed a 9-yard reception from Kurt Warner to open up the game, 7-0 in favor of the home team.
Fitzgerald nabbed his second end zone celebration with a 62-yard reception from Warner. The play was started with a backward pass from J.J. Arrington.
Fitzgerald put the cherry on top when he maneuvered past CB Sheldon Brown for a 1-yard touchdown reception, 21-6.
The decibel level of University of Phoenix stadium was off the charts. The twelfth man and impeccable Cardinals defense got the Eagles off the field fast and kept them to just one big play and only two field goals.
Arizona dodged a major bullet in the first half with a possible game-changer from Aaron Francisco and Eagles Rookie WR DeSean Jackson. Francisco picked off McNabb after not having an interception the entire regular season.
But the football gods giveth and taketh away, as Francisco never received his pats on the back because Jackson stripped the ball from Francisco and handed the Eagles a new set of downs.
The Eagles let the second chance opportunity fall in vain. David Akers couldn’t pull out a 47-yard field goal attempt. His first try of the day was a completed field goal from 45 yards out, which gave the Eagles their initial three points.
Akers put another three points through the uprights (33 yards). The scoring drive appeared to be headed in the Cardinals favor when Darnell Dockett sacked Donovan McNabb, but Antonio Smith got on the wrong end of a defensive holding call. The penalty gave the Eagles 5 yards and a first down.
WR Kevin Curtis went 47 yards off a short pass from McNabb. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie wrapped him up, but the play ended with a field goal, 14-6.
Keys to the Second Half
The Cardinals can’t celebrate too early. Sounds trite, but the Eagles are a good football team and can easily make it a ball game if the Cardinals don’t stay on their toes.
The Eagles will need to re-group at the half though. Emotions are getting the best of certain players like rookie free safety Quintin Demps who basically tried to take out Warner. Anquan Boldin had already tried to catch the ball downfield, so the ball was completely out of Warner's hands.