Dear Arizona Cardinals,
On behalf of everybody who is not a fan of your franchise, I would like to apologize for any comments that were made regarding your team not deserving to be in the playoffs.
When you guys started out 7-3, I thought you had a decent team. Kurt Warner was playing like his old MVP self. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin were two of the best wide receivers in the league. Still, your team did play in the NFC West division that consisted of the struggling 49ers, Rams, and Seahawks.
After your Thanksgiving Day performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in which you lost 48-20, I thought this was another example of how the Cardinals struggle against some of the best teams in the league. The Redskins, Giants, Panthers, Jets, and Eagles are perfect examples of teams that you struggled against this season.
Still, your end-of-season collapse made many of us wonder whether or not your team deserved to go to the playoffs. After your 7-3 start, you finished the season losing four of your last six games.
Despite a 9-7 record, you still earned the right to host an opening round home playoff game since you were crowned champions of the NFC West.
Then came the opening round matchup in the playoffs against the red-hot Atlanta Falcons. Led by offensive rookie of the year quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons entered the playoffs winning seven of their last nine games. Even though they were on the road, many analysts figured the Falcons would advance since your team struggled toward the end of the season.
Then, your team did something that many of us didn't expect you to do. You surprised most of us when you beat the Falcons 30-24 in the opening round of the playoffs. Not only did your offense perform well, but your defense stepped it up, forcing the Falcons offense to record three turnovers.
After the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Minnesota Vikings, the Cardinals found themselves with a divisional round matchup against the NFC South division champion Carolina Panthers.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, nobody seemed to give them a chance against the Panthers. Statistically, the Panthers seemed like they would have no problem getting by the Cardinals.
An 8-0 record at home. A dynamic-duo at running back behind DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart who produced over 2,000 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns. Why wouldn't everybody assume the Panthers would win this game?
After Jonathan Stewart capped off a nine-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of Saturday night's game, it seemed like this was going to be the type of game everybody expected from you guys. Looks like we were wrong.
From that point on, everything seemed to go the right way for your team. Fitzgerald caught eight passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. Warner threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Even Edgerrin James, who has struggled a majority of the season, was able to rush for 57 yards and a score.
You guys ended up defeating the Panthers 33-13. Not only did your offense perform well, but the defense had a strong outing for the second straight week. Your defense forced Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme to throw five interceptions and lose a fumble. That is unbelievable considering he was the leader of the No. 2-seeded Panthers.
All of a sudden, the Arizona Cardinals are one of the hottest teams in football.
None of us gave you a chance against the Panthers. You guys went from a late season slump to defeating two of the hottest teams in football and making an appearance in the NFC Championship game. What is even more impressive about Saturday night's game is that you guys won without star wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
On behalf of all of us who doubted you, including myself, I would like to apologize for all of the comments made about the Cardinals not deserving to be in the playoffs. You guys have played amazing the last two weeks. If you continue this solid play, there is no reason why you guys can't make it to the Super Bowl.
Great game last night and good luck next week in the NFC Championship round.