Monday, January 19, 2009
First off, Championship Sunday is better than Super Bowl Sunday.
Why? Championship Sunday gives you two great games, which history tells us, are usually a lot more exciting than the big one. Also, there's less hype and you have a better chance to sit down and actually watch the game. Super Sunday you're stuck at a party with a bunch of amateur fans who are there for the party and commercials.
Going into the NFC Championship game, my biggest question? How is Arizona a 4 point underdog? How can you make the home team an underdog in a Championship Game! Yeah, Arizona played in one of the weakest divisions and everyone thought the Cardinals didn't even belong in the Playoffs. But what about the Eagles? Philadelphia needed a couple of miracles on the final Sunday of the season just to make the playoffs.
The Eagles struggled to beat a mediocre Vikings' team. Than went into the Meadowlands to beat Giants team that limped into the playoffs losing 3 of four. You knew Philly's luck was gonna run out. And not to mention the Eagles' struggle in recent Conference Championship Games.
Another thing, Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver in the NFL. He's Randy Moss on LSD. Fitzgerald doesn't even look like he runs full speed. He's carried the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. Heck, he set the NFL record for most receiving yards in the playoffs-419 yards, breaking Jerry Rice's 1988 record of 409.
Fitzgerald set a Conference Championship record with 3 first half touchdowns.
But give Donavan McNabb and Philadelphia a lot of credit. Down 24-6 at halftime, on the Eagles' first possession of the second half, McNabb was sacked by Adrian Wilson and fumbled the ball away to Arizona. The Cardinals were well on their way to a blow out.
Philadelphia kept their composure on the road and scored 19 unanswered points to somehow take a 25-24 lead in the fourth quarter! The Eagles owned the third quarter with 165 yards to Arizona's 4!
But Arizona showed they were the better team by putting together a Super Bowl drive. After losing a 24-6 lead and all of the momentum, the Cardinals put together a 14 play, 72 yard touchdown drive taking 7:52 off the clock.
Of course there were many critical plays on the drive. Arizona faced a fourth and 1(and season) near midfield. Ken Whisenhunt elected to go for it and Tim Hightower ran to the outside to pick up the biggest first down in the Cardinals' history.
Later in the drive, third and 1 from the 15, Hightower ran for another first down to give the Cardinals a first and goal. Three players later, Hightower finished the drive on a screen pass from Warner and found the end zone.
Arizona's defense held on. On 4th and 10, McNabb's final pass (as an Eagle?) fell incomplete to Kevin Curtis. There might have been some contact on the play, but both players seemed to slip and Curtis probably still should have made the catch. And in these types of games, you can't let the refs decide the outcome.
I think I might have been more impressed by the Cardinals' defense than anything else. They were able to shut down the run and get pressure on McNabb. Adrian Wilson came through on safety blitzes and finished with 7 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. Don't count out the Cardinals in the Super Bowl.
So for the first time ever, on to Tampa and the Super Bowl for the Arizona Cardinals! Congratulations!