Friday before the playoffs and Packers

Posted by Darren Urban on January 15, 2016 – 12:30 pm

Once upon a time, before the Cardinals ran their home playoff record all-time to 4-0 with a thrilling 51-45 overtime win over the Packers, before Kurt Warner had more touchdown passes (five) than incompletions (four), before Karlos Dansby’s fumble return brought Mike McCarthy to his knees, there was a baby on the way.

No, not my kid. (My boys were watching at University of Phoenix Stadium that day, in fact.) But I have a good friend who has covered the Packers for a long time. And he had a daughter due to be born about a week after that Packers-Cardinals tilt. A Green Bay win, and there was going to be some serious juggling to do in his life.

Cardinals cornerback Michael Adams unknowingly had my buddy’s back though, and Money Mike’s strip-sack of Aaron Rodgers, leading to Dansby’s return touchdown allowed no complications with job and family.

A few weeks later, I sent my friend a surprise gift. It was a picture – the one you see below – signed by Adams, addressed to baby Madison:

Madison – I’m glad I could make sure your Dad was there for you. Michael Adams

This is one of the first things I think of when I think of Cardinals-Packers in the playoffs – in addition to Warner, and Money Mike and Dansby and Early Doucet’s helmet flying off and Fitz’s diving touchdown and Rodgers being thisclose to hitting a wide-open Greg Jennings in overtime for what would have been a game-winning TD and made my friend’s life that much harder.

This game Saturday night, will it be as memorable? If it puts the Cardinals in the NFC Championship, I’m going to say yes.

— I think the Cardinals can survive the loss of Alex Okafor. Not sure yet how they make it happen – I will be curious to see if they use DT Josh Mauro on the edge in run-down situations – but I think they’ll be OK. They managed fine in run defense in the games Okafor missed (Steelers, Ravens, Browns) and against the pass, they should be good with Dwight Freeney and Markus Golden.

— Saw this nugget from another Packer writer friend of mine, Wes Hodkiewicz: The Packers are 10-0 this year when hitting the QB at least five times. On the flip side, you have the Cardinals offensive line, which has allowed only 27 sacks this season – tied for fourth-fewest in the NFL.

“Knock on wood,” offensive coordinator/line coach Harold Goodwin said, chiding the reporter for bringing it up. “You can’t do that to me.

“We’ve done a decent job all year of protection. I don’t know where we’re ranked or finished, as far as how many. I really don’t pay attention to that. We’ve just got to make sure we’ve got 11 guys on the same page, which is the biggest thing when it comes down to protection, and win the one-on-one battles up front.”

Goodwin said the Cards lost two such battles early in the last Packers meeting. They know – as they have known all season – protecting Carson Palmer is crucial.

— That said, Palmer has been so fantastic this season with his footwork and moving in the pocket. He’s not Rodgers or Russell Wilson, but he’s better than Palmer 2013 or 2014 in that regard.

— Goodwin on getting Larry Fitzgerald to block so well: “It comes with a lot of choice words, is what you say to him to get him to block. ‘If you want the ball, bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep, you’ve got to block some.’ ”

Goody smiled as he said it. There is little question Fitz has become arguably the best blocking wide receiver in the game. Oh, and he had 109 catches too.

— Hall of Fame cornerback Roger Wehrli will man the Big Red Siren Saturday pre-game.

— GM Steve Keim and team president Michael Bidwill will speak at a pre-game pep rally on the Great Lawn at 4:15 p.m. Saturday. And don’t forget Flo Rida is singing at halftime.

— This feels like a David Johnson game to me.

— Bruce Arians said the 13-3 season has been “fun.” But (and there is always a but) “it doesn’t mean crap if we don’t win it.”

— Which leads me to this: There has been a lot of talk about pressure this week, and undoubtedly, the Cardinals understand that after a 13-3 season, winning at least one playoff game is expected. But as the talk veers into the favorite and the underdog and that pressure I mentioned, it’s better to be the better team. Just in my history covering this team, I’ve seen losing streaks and the Monday Night Meltdown and fumbles in field-goal range and horrific blowout losses. I’ve seen “the worst playoff team in NFL history” – yes, that was a hell of a ride – and injuries overwhelm a playoff team in New Orleans and trying to win a postseason game with a third-string quarterback.

This is the first time the Cardinals were considered better, the first time they’ve earned “better.” And it’s the position where you want to be, pressure or not.


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Posted in Blog | 21 Comments »

21 Responses to “Friday before the playoffs and Packers”

  1. By Dr H on Jan 15, 2016 | Reply

    I can’t see the Cards having a bad game. They’ve essentially been so consistent the last 3 seasons (not including the games we lost Carson). Carson and the players all play so consistently with play makers in every game. They’re like the Patriots of the West except we don’t cheat.

    They just need to do everything they’ve been doing all along and we’ll be fine!

  2. By DTL aka Patrick Hoog on Jan 15, 2016 | Reply

    So, succinct: “it’s better to be the better team”. The ball ain’t that crooked(?). Maybe not. Go Cards, need 2 more games. DTL

    PS: How’s Sendlein injury looking? Babin?

  3. By Darren Urban on Jan 15, 2016 | Reply

    DTL —

    RE: Sendlein/Babin

    Sendlein is fine. Don’t know how Babin will be. Practices are closed.

  4. By MikeFlorio on Jan 15, 2016 | Reply

    I promised myself I wouldn’t cry- But, Urb you put some real passion into this piece and I felt it.
    Pulitzer Piece for sure!
    Now if you could just hook up one fan with a seat in your suite, that would be great!

  5. By D on Jan 15, 2016 | Reply

    The Oline protection has been great this year. One person who didn’t get much praise was B. Massie. It appears the kid grew up and will demand a nice pay day in the free agency this offseason.

    Too bad Okafor hasn’t grown up. But thanks to the GM Of the Year, we have good depth. Anxious to see how K. Martin plays.

    I have sat through many Cardinal great wins, even ran on the field at Sun Devil when the Cards beat the Chargers to go to the playoffs. (although spent the rest of the night at the hospital on Mill when my buddy blew out his knee jumping over that 4 ft fence) I still tell people that Warner/Card game vs GB in 2009 was the greatest win I have witnessed as a Card fan. I am hoping this game is as good with the same results.

    This is clearly the best team we have had to watch here in AZ. 34 wins in 3 years deserves at least 2 playoff victories…as the Cards theme song goes, I hope they are about to whip somebody’s a**

  6. By NJAzCardsFan on Jan 15, 2016 | Reply

    The Cards have better players, better coaching and the are in in a warm stadium….. Much stock is made of the Packers beating the Redskins, who were just not that good. The Cards will win and it won’t be close.

    Cards 31-17 over GB…..

    This will be a prime time game… The Cards are 5-0 in prime time….

    The game I really want to see is the Cards/Panthers…..One week at a time though….

  7. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Jan 15, 2016 | Reply

    Living in Packerland, I never get tired of seeing photos of that Rodgers sack by Adams. And yes, Jason Wilde does a really good job of covering the Packers.

    When the Cards get the Packers in 3rd and very long (15+ yards), they can’t let them convert. That’s happened too many times to the Cardinals this season. I don’t know why it’s been a problem for an otherwise stellar defense, but it can’t afford to be happening in the playoffs.

  8. By sbrown on Jan 15, 2016 | Reply

    tomorrow, game one of a three game season.

    Coaches and Players just do your job, let the Red Sea do our job, and we will move on to another game next week ( maybe a home game ) !

    Go Cardinals all the way to SB 50 !!

  9. By Dynosoar on Jan 15, 2016 | Reply


    Thanks for hoping I’ll bring good luck, but if the Cardinals play as they have all season and the Packers play as they have, we won’t need any luck.

    Thanks for the well wishes, this is going to be a game to remember.

  10. By Dynosoar on Jan 15, 2016 | Reply


    your gift to baby Madison, that’s gold!

  11. By Eazy E on Jan 16, 2016 | Reply

    Let’s go Cards!!!

  12. By Blair on Jan 16, 2016 | Reply

    “money mike” lol. Didn’t think I would ever read that again. My favorite cardinals CB all time, just ahead of Aaron Francisco.

  13. By JohnnyBluenose on Jan 16, 2016 | Reply

    Blair….Francisco was a safety, not a cornerback and I can still picture him falling down and allowing the Steelers to make a big play against us in the last minute of the Super Bowl. I think he was also on the field, in the corner of the end zone, when Sanders caught the winning touchdown on a play called by you know who.

  14. By Gabe on Jan 16, 2016 | Reply

    What jerseys are they wearing today

  15. By Darren Urban on Jan 16, 2016 | Reply

    Gabe —

    RE: Jerseys

    Red jerseys, white pants.

  16. By Richard S on Jan 16, 2016 | Reply

    I just read on the newspaper site that to get tickets for the game all you needed was an Arizona zipcode. I wonder if I gave my sister’s Mesa address if I could have gotten tickets. Oh well, I probably couldn’t afford them anyway on my meager federal pension, which is about 4 times less than my brother-in-laws Siemens pension.

  17. By Eric G on Jan 16, 2016 | Reply

    Not to jump the gun, but I’ve had a gut feeling that the cards win the SB on a spin move sack by Freeney. Let’s get the first step done tonight. On vacation in ft Lauderdale and will represent the red Sea loud tonight.

  18. By Scott H on Jan 16, 2016 | Reply

    JohnnyBlue –

    Wasn’t it Santonio Holmes who caught the winning TD pass in the SB? It wasn’t Sanders.

  19. By CreditCard on Jan 16, 2016 | Reply

    Green Bay using their hurry-up offense is having their time with the Cards. D-line have hands on hips and as a result there is absolutely no pressure on Rodgers.

    I think the Pack is out coaching the Cards.

  20. By CreditCard on Jan 16, 2016 | Reply

    1st half observation:

    Green Bay O-line is beating Cards D-Line due to hurry-up. Green Bay D-Line is beating Card O-Line and Palmer does not look comfortable.

    Need changes / adjustments at half for the Cards.

    Yikes — I don’t like what is happening. Hopefully the Cards can pull through. Right now, I think mental monsters might be creeping in (didn’t play well against Seattle etc…)

  21. By JohnnyBluenose on Jan 16, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H….Yes you are correct. My apologies. I have tried so hard to erase that play from my memory. I have succeeded in eliminating Holmes but the image of that plat will haunt me forever. I am writing this about twenty minutes after tonight’s game.My heart is still racing and I swear I heard you screaming with delight when Larry scored. That’s an image I will never forget….Larry’s image, not yours. Be well.

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