Friday before the Niners (and Bucs-Saints)

Posted by Darren Urban on December 27, 2013 – 4:01 pm

A decade ago this weekend (on Dec. 28 to be exact), the Cardinals knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs with a dramatic Hail Mary touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Nate Poole that thrust the Packers into an improbable postseason berth. Ten years later, McCown is a backup Bear, hoping his own team can get into the playoffs. Larry Fitzgerald, the guy the Cards drafted because they went from the No. 1 to No. 3 overall pick that day, is the face of the franchise. And the Cardinals are hoping Mike Glennon can be their Josh McCown.

Like the Packers that day, who still needed to beat the Broncos to have a Vikings loss mean anything, the Cardinals must knock off the 49ers to have a shot at the playoffs. But if they do, they must count on the Buccaneers – playing the role of the 2003 Cardinals – to knock off, in New Orleans, the heavily favored Saints – playing the role of the 2003 Vikings. It’s unlikely, yes. But so too were the Cards, McCown and Poole.

“Anybody can beat anybody in the National Football League,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “It’s a tough place to play but they play them every year in that division.”

Then again, Arians has stressed to his team all week they should only be paying attention to the 49ers and not the scoreboard. It’s simple, really. If the Cards blow the game against San Francisco (and it will be anything but easy), the Saints-Bucs game means nothing anyway.

“If we don’t win, that would really be a crying shame,” Arians said.

— One last note on the missed chance the Falcons had to knock off the 49ers. Arians cracked he was asleep when the final interception happened to cost Atlanta at least a chance to tie. He watched it later on video. “I like the fact Smitty was playing for the win,” Arians said of Falcons coach Mike Smith and the pass play at the end.

— The Cardinals had their last practice of the season Friday. Maybe. “I’ve been in a bunch of these, where the last one counts,” Arians said. “You don’t know what is going to happen Sunday. This team has a chance to make history and that’s all we have talked about all week.”

— The local chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association handed out its two annual awards Friday. Center Lyle Sendlein was given the Steve Schoenfeld “Good Guy” award for being always accessible and insightful with the media regardless of the situation. Linebacker Karlos Dansby received the Lloyd Herberg MVP award. Both awards are named after former Arizona Republic Cardinals writers whose lives were tragically cut short.

— A reminder: Cards are wearing red-on-red Sunday.

— The roof will be open for the game.

— In the weekly video about officiating that the league sends out, VP of officiating Dean Blandino explained the confusing first-and-20 situation in Seattle after an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Cardinals. A flag was thrown on defensive end Frostee Rucker. The penalty was for verbal abuse of an official. A normal unsportsmanlike penalty would be marked off and then the first-and-10 chains set – normally making it first-and-10 at the Arizona 10-yard line. When the penalty is against an official, however, the chains are set and then the penalty is marked off.  So the Cards had a first-and-20 at their 10.

— In their last nine meetings against the 49ers, the Cardinals have a whopping 28 turnovers and have never won the turnover battle. That’s why they have lost eight of them (and the one win, the Cards had three turnovers, the Niners zero.) The Cards must take better care of the ball.

— The Cardinals did not play great that day in San Francisco back in October, but were left with the feeling of a missed opportunity. That’s been an underlying theme this week.

— Here’s hoping the Cards have found out how to quell tight end Vernon Davis, who beat them up pretty well the first time around (8-180-2). ”

— I am interested to see what it is like in University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday. This game has been sold out for a while. The Cards have a chance to win 11 for the first time in Arizona, playoffs or no playoffs. This is a rivalry. “If we could only win two games the whole season, I would pick both to be the 49ers,” Fitz said this week, and this is a chance to get one.

Until Sunday …

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32 Responses to “Friday before the Niners (and Bucs-Saints)”

  1. By Rich on Dec 27, 2013 | Reply

    will be at the game. rise up red sea !!!!!!!!!!!

  2. By cardsalltheway on Dec 27, 2013 | Reply

    “Heavily favored Saints”

    Yeah, by what 12.5 points? If only all the Bucs had to do was cover. I’m not sure why the Saints are “heavily favored” though. Things don’t look good for them. There are other key matchups so click to see more
    “Key Matchups: Buccaneers vs. Saints
    Vincent Jackson has had quite a bit of success against the Saints and will test their recently-depleted secondary on Sunday.
    Buccaneers DE Adrian Clayborn vs. Saints T Terron Armstead
    On the subject of pass rush, Clayborn also came up with a sack in the first meeting against the Saints. Through 15 games, he has five sacks. This week, he will line up opposite Armstead, a rookie left tackle making his second NFL start. The Saints have noted their encouragement with the rookie in his progression and run blocking; however, Panthers RDE Greg Hardy notched three sacks vs. the Saints last week.”

  3. By Omaha Card on Dec 27, 2013 | Reply


    Is it ironic with all the talk of Red on Red uniforms that that day 10 years ago while beating the Vikings, the Cards were wearing Red on Red.

  4. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2013 | Reply

    Omaha Card —

    RE: Ironic

    I leave all questions about irony to @CardsMarkD.

  5. By grabling on Dec 27, 2013 | Reply


    Which will be the 2014 cardinals opponents?

  6. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2013 | Reply

    Grabling –

    RE: 2014 opponents

  7. By Steve on Dec 27, 2013 | Reply

    Darren: I think the Cards will have the 20th overall pick in the upcoming draft provided they do not make the playoffs.

  8. By Eric G on Dec 27, 2013 | Reply

    Let’s hope the Bucs take this game personal and play to knock out their division rivals from the playoffs.

  9. By Tbru on Dec 27, 2013 | Reply

    So had we lost that game 10 years ago. Would we have went after Eli, or was Coach Green locked into Fitz no matter what? Imagine that house of Cards. Warner would have stayed a few more years in NY No Fitz. Boldin probably would have got paid what he wanted. Would Whiz have benched Eli after a bad game or two? For better or for worse, the cardinals we know today would be entirely different if McCown didn’t hit Poole.

  10. By Hammy on Dec 27, 2013 | Reply

    As a long time Cards fan, I can say that I feel really good about the future of this team. We are just a few key pieces away from being that elite team that everyone fears on the schedule. Continue to fix the o-line and get a good corner opposite PP… the skies the limit. Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles and co. have done an oustanding job. We will beat the 9ers and I am praying that Bucs pull off an upset in N.O. Either way great year for the dirty birds.

    Darren can GM’s negotiate contract extensions now or do they have to wait till after the Superbowl?

  11. By Darren Urban on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    Hammy —

    RE: Extensions

    They can happen now.

  12. By Mark on Dec 27, 2013 | Reply

    Karlos Dansby was completely robbed on this so called pro bowl selection.


    Dansby 109 solo tackles 8 tackle assists which is a joke, 6.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble four ints, 18 pass defense and 2 tds.

    Willis 78 solo tackles 20 assists 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and no picks, 1 pass defense or no tds.

    Kueckly 88 solo tackles 58 tackle assists, forced fumbles 0, 4 int 7 pass defense, no tds

    Bowman 111 solo tackles, 24 tackle assists, forced fumbles 3, 1 int, pass defense 8, one td.

    Los is first in sacks, tied for first in interceptions, second in solo tackles, first in pass defense and first in tds at his possession. Total BS!

  13. By Dynosoar on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    Dansby may have been snubbed, but he’ll have three Pro-Bowlers and four alternates keeping him company while watching the Pro-Bowl game. All with an extra ring on their fingers.

    \Oh yeah!

    Down with the 49ers and the Saints. Three teams from the NFC West in the playoffs. Pretty good if you ask me.

    What? That’s a clear bowling ball and not a crystal ball. Ah man, well I still stand by what I see. I believe were going to the playoffs this year and beyond. A Super Bowl this year and home field advantage in next years Super Bowl. It’s been a while since a team has went to back to back Super Bowls.

    Maybe it’s better we don’t make it all the way this year and have home field advantage next year, but I really like that we go this year and next.

  14. By WeComeWeGo on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    Darren, thanks for another great season of coverage!

    Do you think that if the Cards miss the post season, there is a likelihood of them being covered next year during HBO’s Hard Knocks? I realize BA has expressed a desire to keep the cameras out, but since we wouldn’t meet the exemption requirements and all teams will have to do it at some point I was curious if you felt it might happen.

  15. By Darren Urban on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    WeCome —

    RE: Hard Knocks

    I don’t know. That’s a good question.

  16. By rod on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    Not surprised that Arians liked Smitty going for the win in that game…Arians is a gunslinger, but you run there…

  17. By Scharf on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    If you ask me, Profootballfocus should be in charge of what players go to the ProBowl. Only the stat guys know who truly is better. Eliminates all the favoritism. Fitz should be a pro-bowler just based on that Rams game where he had like 12 catches and I think what? 8 of them were catches only Fitz could make.

  18. By clssylssy on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    The Saints are heavily favored because they are playing at home in the Dome. The Seahawks had about the same odds of winning last week when we played them although we are a better team than the Bucs. That being said, it is a division game and the Bucs can be nasty, kinda like the Hawks. I read somewhere that our players would be watching the jumbotron because the Saints/Bucs scores would be “everywhere” and I hope that doesn’t detract from the job at hand. The bottom line is that if we don’t win this game it won’t matter what the Bucs do so better not to have the distraction plastered all over the stadium. Fans can follow the scores on their phones, players need to focus on the game and doing their job as error free as possible. As has been pointed out, anything can happen in this final game so, in many ways it is a playoff game and our ticket in the door. I agree, that the Saints aren’t as strong as advertised but are still darn good. They have lost Kenny Vacarro, Drew has a bad knee, and they’ve had to shuffle new players into positions in the last few games. For all practical purposes they don’t have a backup quarterback so if Brees goes down it could be all over (Goldson was just hit with a $60,000 fine on top of the $100,000 fine for the hit on Sproles in their last meeting). I would be very worried about protecting Brees if I were Payton as this
    could get ugly with Goldson wanting “pay back”. I agree with Fitz on the Cards/9ers games and even though we’re at home we’ll need to be playing our “A” game for the full sixty as they’ve had a preview of what we can do and will be “heads up”. This should be the game of the season so let’s be LOUD & PROUD …Kaep can be rattled into making mistakes under pressure and doesn’t like it when we BRING THE NOISE!

  19. By Nor cal cards fan on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    Did PP ever give an explanation as to why he was staring at the jumbotron in the middle of a live play in which he could have recovered a fumble if he was paying attention?

  20. By Scott H on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    First, congrats to our Pro Bowl starters and alternates. Gonna be lots of Cardinals in Hawaii!!! Love it.

    Wow…just occurred to me recently that 11-5 would be the best record I have ever seen since becoming a Cardinals fan in / or about 1976. Playoffs or not, that would be such an amazing accomplishment. And if they don’t get in, I say there are gonna be some teams in the NFC that are gonna be glad they didn’t. Because if there is a team that has that look of a team NOBODY would want to have to play right now, it’s the Cardinals.

    When this season started, the NFC West owned the two best teams in the conference. As this season ends, it now owns the THREE best teams in the conference. And I wish we could start the season over right now!

    I understand that if they go 11-5, the 2013 Cardinals will be only the 3rd 11-5 team in NFL history to NOT make the playoffs. Amazing. Kinda cool to be on that list. And at the same time, a real shame to be on that list.

  21. By Andy Kw on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    If the Arizona Cardinals are lucky, The New Orleans Saints could sit Drew Brees out of the game and start Luke McCown instead. Health is more important than anything in the world of NFL Football. If they want to protect that injured knee of his, sit him out. Part of the reason why it is so hard to watch football is because of the injuries to players. So DREW BREES, for your own sake just sit out and help the Arizona Cardinals if not Luke McCown could surprise the world.
    -Whatever happens at the TB vs. NO game and SF vs. ARI, this season would have to be the best by far.

  22. By Darren Urban on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    Andy Kw —

    RE: Saints/Fleming

    1) You do understand that the Saints miss the playoffs if the Cards get in. Right?

    2) I would doubt Fleming returns.

  23. By Andy Kw on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    Tomorrow, I will be cheering for the Cardinals and Buccaneers. I wanted Mike Glennon to be a Cardinal but he has done wonders to the Tampa Bay team. Glennon, I will be forever grateful if you do this one good deed for our team.

  24. By Andy Kw on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    Hey Darren,
    If Jamell Fleming was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, do you think the Cardinals will consider bringing him back?

  25. By Dre on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    Go cards I was at the game when josh threw that td. Go cards let get the w let’s hit them hard early and often and make them quit on the field . One more thing go bucs

  26. By Andy Kw on Dec 28, 2013 | Reply

    Believe me Mr. Darren Urban, I do understand the Saints will miss the playoffs if the Cards get in which is exactly what I want. I’m just saying that if Drew Brees was sitting in the game, our team has a better shot that’s all.

  27. By jaime on Dec 29, 2013 | Reply

    Peterson go #7!!

  28. By William Nielsen on Dec 29, 2013 | Reply


    I know that the team is focusing on the playoffs, and I am too, but I was wondering which place in the NFC West the Cards would get with a win against SF. Would they be 2nd or 3rd? Does it depend on a playoff clinch?

  29. By Darren Urban on Dec 29, 2013 | Reply

    William —

    RE: SF

    Any tie with the 49ers, the 49ers win the tiebreak.

  30. By Big Ken on Dec 29, 2013 | Reply

    Defense, make it reign baby!

  31. By Dr. G. on Dec 29, 2013 | Reply

    William –
    If the Cards get it, seems like they would be the #6 seed, ‘cuz Sfran has a better Div % of wins…. The other three Divisions do not matter to us. As Darren said, NO will be out if the Cards get in….

    If braggadocio could get you to the Pro Bowl, Dansby would have made it a long time ago. There are other teams’ players more deserving…

    We really want the Bucs to give us a reprieve from the games Fitz points out we lost with just a little win over NO today…. Win or lose, I am confident our Cards will want to hammer the 49ers today. It will take the good effort we have in our team..

    Go CARDS!

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