Prayers Answered: Cardinals Defeat The Eagles and Advance to Super Bowl XLIII
No one thought they could do it. No one gave them a chance but this years Arizona Cardinals team have managed to do the impossible. With the deck stacked against them and after having to face three of the NFC's finest in consecutive weeks, the Arizona Cardinals are on their way to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
They have earned an opportunity to compete for the richest prise in the sport, the Vince Lombardi trophy.
The rough and relentless persistence of a Cardinals team that refused to give up when the deck was stacked against them has now managed to propel them to the peak of their own personal capabilities. They now stand as a team that no longer has disappointed the good people of Arizona but a team that has far surpassed their expectations in route to reaching their full potential.
Everyone had picked the Philadelphia Eagles as the solid lock for winning the NFC championship game. I usually hate the teams that play the "no respect" card but this Cardinals team is the first team in a long time to lay legitimate claim to being offended by that label.
By upsetting the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cardinals continue to remind fans of the sport that any team can win on any given Sunday. It's refreshing to be reminded of the miracles some teams are capable of and this team is living proof that nothing is impossible in the National Football League.
The Eagles came in as heavy favorites and displayed the character reflective of a team thought to be as dominant as the Eagles were once envisioned as being. Late hits (one very blatant) on Kurt Warner did little to help the unscrupulous reputation that is reflective of the fighting city in which they come from. Despite such on-the-field tactics, the Cardinals confidence did not waver.
Kurt Warner carried himself with every bit of the integrity he has personified over the course of his 11-year career. He would not be rattled by the late hits that might have shaken the confidence of most other quarterbacks in this league. He instead, continued to let his performance do the talking.
That's what put the Cardinals ahead by 18 points at halftime. The game however was not over.
The Eagles began what looked to be a historic comeback after their horrific first half performance. They managed to score 19 points in under ten minutes to take the lead at 25-24.
But just as you thought the game's momentum had permanently shifted, the game took another exciting turn in Arizona's favor.
The ball was then put in the hands of the Cardinals offense. Kurt Warner led his team down the field, taking time off the clock along the way. The drive culminated in a touchdown pass to Tim Heightower and a successful two-point conversion pass to Ben Patrick.
Donovan McNabb and the Eagles had two final opportunities to come away with the victory. Unlike Arizona however, the Eagles were unable to finish their drive with a crucial touchdown.
The game ended with Arizona on top by the final score of 32-25.
With Warner's victory Sunday, he becomes only the second quarterback in NFL history to lead two different teams to a Super Bowl (Craig Morton being the other). Larry Fitzgerald's three touchdown receptions in the first half alone tied the NFL post season record.
Who wanted it more?
The Cardinals wanted it more. The Eagles were out-coached and out-performed. You could tell from the moment the game began that this Arizona team wanted to win this game more than their opponents and they deserve every bit of this victory.
I praise the Cardinals fans present in Arizona as you could tell they made a vocal impression that impacted the events of the game. It's reassuring to see that fans of a once consistently-losing team never managed to lose the passion they exemplified at the University of Phoenix stadium today. Those fans more than any deserve the gratification this victory has brought them.
Arizona Cardinals fans, your prayers have been answered. Congratulations on an impressive victory in route to become the 2008 NFC champions.
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