Every year, there is a Cinderella—that one team no one expects to rise to the top. The team that surprises everyone and makes a run at the end of the season.
Sometimes, the team does not even look like a tough team ever, but just does enough to win the close games. This year’s Cinderella team is the Arizona Cardinals.
When the playoffs began, most people thought the Cardinals did not even deserve a chance to be in the playoffs. They won their division, but the division has a total of 13 wins from the other three teams.
The Cardinals had a tough road. First, they had to host the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons looked to be a tough team in the NFC. They had a rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan, who completed almost 62 percent of his passes during the regular season. He was joined in the backfield by Michael Turner, who rushed for almost 1700 yards this season.
The Falcons had 11 wins on the season and had a consistency that kept them in games. The Cardinals almost did not even sell out their home playoff game.
They needed two extensions by the NFL to sell out the divisional playoff round. No one, not even the home fans, believed in the Cardinals.
After the Cardinals beat the Falcons, they had to travel to the east coast, where they had not won a game all season. They had to play the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.
Dating back to the weekend of Thanksgiving, the Panthers had won four of five games. Their only loss was to the New York Giants, who ranked No. 1 overall in the NFC. The Cardinals did what no one expected again—they won on the east coast.
Now, it was home to Phoenix for the NFC Championship game. Could they do it? It took two NFL extensions to sell out the divisional playoff game. Would they need extensions to sell out the NFC Championship game too? No, the game sold out in less than ten minutes. Now people were beginning to believe.
The Cardinals had to play the Philadelphia Eagles, an inconsistent team that was peaking at just the right moment. They had to play near-perfect ball to have a chance. Thank goodness for Larry Fitzgerald, one of the most untouchable receivers in the league.
The Cardinals are on to the Super Bowl in Tampa. Now, they face the Pittsburgh Steelers, ranked No. 1 overall in total defense in the entire NFL. They don’t let points in and score their points on a consistent basis. The Steelers never go away—they don’t let up all game.
The last time a team making their first Super Bowl appearance won was in 2003 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The first time the Steelers made a championship game, they won. That was Super Bowl IX.
Could history repeat? Do the Arizona Cardinals stand a chance to win their first Super Bowl appearance? This Super Bowl is one for the ages.
Does Cinderella have a chance or will the clock strike midnight too soon?