Friday before the NFC Championship

Posted by Darren Urban on January 22, 2016 – 4:44 pm

Soon, the Cardinals will know if they will play in Super Bowl 50. Not that they are looking at this game – Sunday night, NFC Championship, in Carolina – along those lines.

“You can’t get the Lombardi without winning the Halas,” Larry Fitzgerald said.

The veteran receiver knows how it works. He’s reminded of it all the time when he walks through the lobby of the team’s Tempe complex and sees the Halas Trophy from the 2008 season displayed. That trophy signifies the key to what was a marvelous two weeks back then, an ending that wasn’t derailed until the last minute. (We won’t go into that now.)

But those two weeks are a crucial point. The Super Bowl seems so far away, both in time and as a journey. Traveling to Carolina comes first – that’s Saturday morning when the Cards leave – and then a game.

I believe the Cardinals are mentally in the right place for this game. A lot can happen in the game itself. I expect a close game. And the Cardinals can try and close in on an NFC title. After that, there will be plenty of time to talk about what’s next.

— It’s hard to get past the feeling that a turnover or two will decide this. These two teams are the ones who have forced the most turnovers in the league (39 for the Panthers, 33 for the Cardinals).

— The most glaring issue on offense in the Cards’ last two games was how the offensive line/protection/blocking got off to slow starts. Something to watch for in the first quarter Sunday night. The Panthers have a helluva front seven. The Cards have to hold up.

— During the Biggest Red Rage Thursday night, cornerback Patrick Peterson said he’s actually down to 199 pounds, a far cry from the listed 219 he played at last season, and down a few from the beginning of the season. He said he could still hang with tight end Greg Olsen if needed, though.

— I’m interested to see if they indeed would put Peterson on Olsen at any point.

— Will weather be a factor? I don’t think it will, as long as the forecast doesn’t change. It might be cold – it’ll dip to near freezing during the game – but Fitzgerald was telling me a couple of weeks ago before the Seattle-Minnesota freezefest that it’s actually not bad for players. Heaters on the sidelines, in the mat the players stand on, big coats. It may be chilly when a drive starts, but that changes quickly as the plays mount.

— For the record, three coldest games (by kickoff temperature) the Cardinals have played this season: 37 degrees at Philadelphia, 45 degrees at Pittsburgh, 49 degrees at Seattle. The Panthers were 41 degrees at NY Giants, 43 degrees at home against Seattle in the playoffs, and 50 degrees home against Washington.

It is supposed to be about 37 degrees and clear at kickoff for the NFC Championship.

— Arians, asked how valid it was that players will listen to players more than they listen to coaches.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt about it,” Arians said with a smile. “If I want to get a message to Carson, I tell Drew (Stanton), you know.”

— Not only is Fitzgerald the only player (minimum three postseason games) to average 100 yards and a touchdown in his postseason career, he could go catchless Sunday and he would still average 100/1. Right now, Fitzgerald has 912 yards and 10 touchdowns in only eight postseason games.

— Fitzgerald, by the way, was fined $23,152 for his illegal crackback block against the Packers last week.

— Ring of Honor member and former safety Adrian Wilson, now working in the Cardinals’ personnel department as a scout (and famously celebrating with Fitzgerald after his touchdown last week) is the Cardinals’ honorary captain for the game Sunday.

— If you want to see the Cardinals off Saturday, there is a rally at the airport starting at 10 a.m. Click here for the details.

— Defensive tackle Calais Campbell was a rookie in 2008, when the Cardinals went to Carolina to play in the Divisional round and were viewed, as Fitzgerald put it, as “roadkill.” That was the day the defense ruined Jake Delhomme for good, and because of a turn of events, earned a chance to host the NFC Championship game against the Eagles.

Campbell was a backup fill-in then. Now, he’s a Pro Bowl star trying to lead the defense. Yet, as he considered things, he’s not sure things on a fundamental level, are much different.

“Back then you just didn’t want to mess up,” Campbell said. “You just wanted to do your job. It’s still kind of the same case. The biggest thing is just doing your job. Making it just another game of football. It is just one game. You can’t go out there and try to do too much more than your job.

“As a captain and a leader of the team, I want to make sure that I work with the younger guys. Make sure they’re focused and they’re disciplined, and they can realize that it just takes doing your job. You don’t have to do anything extra.  Just do what you’ve been doing all year. Do what got us here.”

The Cardinals are 14-3 after all. Maybe Campbell once again will be able to celebrate in a drizzle on the Panthers’ home field. Maybe he and his teammates will bring home that Halas Trophy.

See you in Carolina.

Victory Shower

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Posted in Blog | 25 Comments »

25 Responses to “Friday before the NFC Championship”

  1. By hummer53 on Jan 22, 2016 | Reply

    Wow. Seems like just last week that it was “Friday before the Chiefs” In August.
    Really want to see one more of these Darren.

  2. By dynosoar on Jan 22, 2016 | Reply

    Just one more win. Then one more win. That’s all.

  3. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Jan 22, 2016 | Reply

    We can win a shootout with the Panthers, no doubt about that. We need to come out gunning from the start. But as mentioned above, the O-line has to be at the top of their game. The O-line is the biggest key to the game in my opinion. If they play well from the start, Carson will settle down quickly, and then it’s pick-your-poison if you’re Carolina.

    I predict that this game will be Floyd’s big coming out party just like it was for Fitz in Carolina in 2009, and I’m sure Larry will be quite happy with that.

  4. By Tradersbrain on Jan 22, 2016 | Reply

    Darren, Can’t wait for the kick-off and expecting the Cardinals to show up for 4 quarters. When you say “I believe the Cardinals are mentally in the right place for this game”, how does their current mental state compare to last weeks? Thanks.

  5. By Darren Urban on Jan 22, 2016 | Reply

    Traders —

    RE: Mentally

    I’ll be honest, I thought they were OK last week, but I could sense some nerves.

  6. By Jim Richardson on Jan 22, 2016 | Reply

    Just saw a picture of the Panthers’ stadium. It is knee deep in snow, including the seats, the field, everything. It will be interesting to see if the Cards can even get there Saturday.

  7. By dynosoar on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply


    you asked a question about two point conversions and I have to say, my looking into this brought me to a very out of the box response rather than a simple do or do not.

    First I went to percentages. in 2015 regular season…
    94% of PAT were converted, so 94% x 20 attempts x 1 point = 18.8 points.
    Two point conversions have 47.9% success. 47.9% x 20 attempts x 2 points = 19.16 points

    While the success rate is lower, we score more points every 20 PAT if we go for 2 every time.

    Now Pittsburgh attempted 11 2pt conversions in 2015 and succeeded with 8, for 72.7%, or 16 points instead of (94% x 11) 10 points. Detroit on the other hand attempted 3 2pt conversions and failed on all of them.

    What we practice becomes easier so I believe the more we practice and attempt two point conversions the better we become at them and this also should translate into more touchdowns within the five yard line instead of settling for a field goal.


    Go For Two on every PAT.

    Use Catman for field goals and kickoffs only. We would score more points on the PAT and more points means more wins (or it should with our defense) AND we get better inside the five yard line getting more touchdowns than field goals at that range.

    I also would not implement this against the Panthers or against the Broncos/Patriots. Begin this strategy in 2016.

    Darren (or anyone),

    if there are any of the coaches/staff/fans that have better statistics than I’ve found that would discredit my approach, let me know I’m off base. If they don’t, please pass this idea along. It’s definitely out of the box and flies in the face of “but we’ve always done it this way.”

    Whew! I’m done. Go for two – always.

  8. By shannon robinson on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply

    I think Red Bryant will be active tomorrow. Stop the run and you break the Panther’s heart. Let’s fight for our four yards a carry and give Carson time to throw. I’m about to kick somebody’s…..

  9. By clssylssy on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply

    What a feeling! I remember Cam’s first game here when most people didn’t see him as the “real deal” and he set a rookie record only to be denied a win largely due to our own rookie PP who set a few records of his own. While everyone (outside of Az) talks about the strength and total domination of the Panther defense and weaknesses in the Card secondary since the loss of HB, I look at our roster and see the experience that’s there with our former SEC players who know Cam well from playing against him for years since college,added to our veterans, and matchup wise, we SHOULD be in much shape than most analysts and outsiders give us credit for. We have the hunger of being denied by 36 seconds on another day that is still fresh for many of us.
    I don’t worry about the weather so much for the players as for the fan base of either team, as such severe weather restricts many fans (Children and those with health issues) from experiencing such a special event even without the dangers of driving on black ice. Whatever the outcome, it’s been one heck of a wild and thrilling ride! Thank You Cards…Faith/Forward/Focus!

  10. By Black on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply

    So excited man this is awesome. Arians has truely turned things around for Cardinal Nation. It’s been a great season and I’m loving it.

    Don’t be surprised when the Cardinals go into Panther territory and stomp them. We’ve gone too far for it to end now!

  11. By Daniel on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    I have flown over from Melbourne Australia for this game! Almost in Charlotte now after the delays! Is there any fan opportunities to see the players and coaches before the game?

    Looking forward to the game! Go Cards!!!

  12. By Darren Urban on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply

    Daniel —

    RE: Before the game

    Not really.

  13. By dynosoar on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply


    I enjoyed your post. I enjoy reading all of them, this one however felt a little different. you sound more confident in this game than most. Here’s to your confidence being well placed and given your reasoning and I think it is.

    Like you said, it’s been one heck of a wild and thrilling ride. I don’t think it’s over.

    We’re 1-1 against the Panthers in the playoffs in there house. I believe we’ll be 2-1 in about 34 hours.

    Like Fitz said,

    Win a Super Bowl.
    Nothing less

  14. By Scott H on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply

    Sounds to me like the weather is gonna be pretty much the same as it was in Philly, when they played there on Dec 20. Granted, the Eagles will NEVER be confused with the Panthers but the point is, the weather clearly did not affect the Cardinals that night. With no wind and no precip, just a little cold, I am not expecting the weather to be a factor.

    The Panthers WILL be a factor. So will how Carson Palmer and our O-line play. We need to win this game on the arm of Carson Palmer. Period.

    And I think we could use a score from either the D or special teams. This figures to be a shoot-out. And that plays to what we do well.

    Tomorrow night needs to be an all-our aerial assault on the Panthers. Best of luck, fellas. Just do what you do and make us proud. Do this for yourselves.

  15. By S on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply

    Oh, one more thing….I believe in sticking with what works. This will be the 4th Sunday Night game the Cards have played this season. I requested / got the day off the following Monday in the previous 3 cases. And they won all 3 games. Folks, I am doing the same this time.

    Fellas, please give me another wonderful day off on Monday. PLEASE!!!

  16. By Big Ken on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply

    Looking forward to Ted Ginn and his hideous performance, take it to the bank.

  17. By Matt on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply

    Does anyone know if they have been picked for super bowl tickets yet? I’m crossing my fingers.

  18. By TucsonTim on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply

    Daniel flies half way across the globe from the world’s most liveable city to see the Cards and “not really” is what he gets. The send off looked like a great time, but I have to say I’m a little disappointed there aren’t any organized Cardinals activities here in Charlotte that I am aware of.

    Locals have been fine so far. Passionate about their team, but hospitable. Had dinner in a nice uptown restaurant and even one of the chefs had to come out and give us grief…all good natured.

    Can’t wait for tomorrow.

  19. By rod on Jan 23, 2016 | Reply

    Please Oline, hold up!

    Silent count!

    Kick that but!

    When you score Larry, remember what I you!

  20. By Daniel Thompson on Jan 24, 2016 | Reply

    Make Cam throw the football……don’t let him run…….maintain edges and SPY him……..make him think he has to stay in the pocket.

  21. By CARDS62 on Jan 24, 2016 | Reply

    I agree with Darren that turnovers will decide this game, but specially from the quarterback position. I think Carson playing very well is the only chance we have to win this game because of our defensive injuries.

    Very excited and nervous about this game at the same time. Cam is scary good this year and you all know we have problems bringing down mobile QBs and this mobile QB is freaking huge, and when we blitz 6 or 7 RBs and TEs just destroy our defense. I think we just bring 5 and hope they can do the job, but Carolina O line is very good pass blocking so our DBs are going to have their best game.

    Carson has to play like Warner and get rid of the ball quickly when our oline is not holding up and then burn Carolina deep when our oline does hold up. Hope we leave TE and RB in to block and then release into the pass pattern especially in the first half. Cam will have more time than Carson to throw the ball on average, but our Cardinal receivers can destroy Carolina’s secondary if we can give Carson a clean pocket.

    Carolina schedule was really weak this year, but they did beat Seattle twice, Houston, Washington, Green Bay, and Giants when their undefeated streak was on the line, so every big game they played this year they won. Their only loss to a team they beat couple of weeks earlier 38 -0. So they have won every big game this year and normally they get off to a very good start. I am okay with a low scoring first half 10-7 to 0 to 0 and let them and Cam feel the pressure in the second half. We need our special teams to have their best game of the year especially Butler and then let Carson and our receivers win this game in the 4th quarter.

    Great to be a Cardinal Fan, and great job to all you fans traveling to Charlotte, especially our Aussie Fan, Daniel. Just be safe one and all as Charlotte is not prepared for snow and ice, and I hope you get to see a game for the ages.

    Go Cards beat those Panthers!

  22. By bestby on Jan 24, 2016 | Reply

    Wow, Fitzgerald is the only receiver to average 100 yards and one touchdown per playoff game. That is certainly an impressive stat. Tells you how important, and clutch, he really is for the Cards.

  23. By George on Jan 24, 2016 | Reply

    back in August placed a bet that Cardinals would win the NFC and Superbowl, Did the same with the Cleveland Browns. Got the same results. I always bet the long shots, because payoffs would be big. What the heck it was a 5.00 bet

  24. By dynosoar on Jan 24, 2016 | Reply


    I guess we needed your nerves and assessment of the strengths of our opponents. That may be better than my eternal optimism.

    I’m with Arians, I didn’t see this one coming, not like that.

    I saw a quote a month ago I wish I’d written down. It went something like – Losers compare themselves to others. Winners compare themselves to themselves. –

    With that in mind
    2012 / 5 – 11
    2013 / 10 – 6
    2014 / 11 – 5 wild card
    2015 / 13 – 3 NFC championship game

    Like Fitz said, “Win a Super Bowl. Nothing Less.”
    Like Arians said “Unless you put a ring on your finger, the season is not a success.”
    I’ve said it, “I’m tired of nothing.”

    I will close with this, 2012 to 2015, the trend is completely positive if I’m comparing our team to our team, we are winning more and more every season and our at the top of the game, just not the tippity top with the ring, but we’re closer than we have been.

    2016 – let’s get that ring. “Win the Super Bowl. Nothing less.”

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