The Arizona Cardinals Are Determined Underdogs

Joe MorganSenior Analyst IJanuary 29, 2009

Once again, an underdog from Arizona will be on the national stage.

While the Arizona Cardinals share the same primary color of John McCain and the Republican Party, they hope to have a better result than the political maverick.

The Cardinals will face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII Sunday, eager to win not only a Super Bowl championship, but some respect around the league as well.

Despite their incredible playoff run, the Cards are still seven-point underdogs for the big game Sunday, a role that they have become quite familiar with.

Facing the Atlanta Falcons at home, Arizona was an underdog to one of the league's most surprising teams in a very unexpected playoff matchup.

Experts speculated that the Cardinal defense wouldn't be able to stop Michael Turner and the Atlanta ground game, even with the support of a home crowd.

However, Arizona held Turner to 42 rushing yards and forced three turnovers, including Antrel Rolle's 27-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown that proved to be the difference in the game.

After defeating the Falcons, the Cardinals would travel to the dreaded East Coast, where they were 0-5 during the season, to face the Carolina Panthers.

Not surprisingly, the NFC West Champions were listed as underdogs, but by a much bigger margin against the 12-4 Panthers.

But the Cardinals would prove resilient once again, forcing six turnovers in an annihilation of heavily-favored Carolina 33-13 that shocked the NFL.

Coming off of a road victory against the Super Bowl XLII Champion New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles would travel to Glendale to play Arizona for the NFC Championship.

Once again, Coach Ken Whisenhunt's team was expected to lose.

Yet, the "never say die" Cardinals continued to impress, taking a 24-6 lead over the Eagles into halftime.

Then, it began to look like the wheels were finally coming off of Arizona's playoff bandwagon when Philadelphia stormed back to take a 25-24 early in the fourth quarter.

However, quarterback Kurt Warner stepped up when his team needed him most, leading the Cardinals offense 72 yards down the field on 14 plays.

Warner capped off the drive with a game-winning touchdown pass to halfback Tim Hightower, causing pandemonium at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Arizona had done the unthinkable by clinching the NFC Championship and a trip to play in Super Bowl XLIII.

Yet, for some reason, the Cardinals are still not taken as seriously as they should be.

Despite having an explosive offense led by Warner and star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, the Steelers are the consensus pick to win comfortably Sunday.

Granted, Pittsburgh has a great football team and deserves all of the credit that is coming their way, but it won't be a cakewalk for Steelers.

Safety Troy Polamalu will have to command his defense and find a way to shut down Arizona's receiving tandem of Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin--or at least slow them down.

The Cardinals' Pro Bowl receivers have combined for over 2,000 receiving yards and 23 touchdown catches during the regular season.

It doesn't get much easier for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense, facing an Arizona defense that has forced 12 turnovers in the playoffs alone.

In addition, the Cardinals have only given up 57.3 rushing yards per game in the postseason, facing top backs such as Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams, and Brian Westbrook.

There is absolutely no reason why Arizona cannot win this game.

In fact, it’s not even crazy to suggest that the Cards will upset the Steelers and win Super Bowl XLIII.

No one expected the Giants to defeat the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, which was played in Arizona’s stadium, nonetheless.

Also, with the recent success of other sports underdogs like the Tampa Bay Rays and the Utah Utes, it’s about time that an underdog wins the big one.

If the Cardinals can play like the same team that stormed right through the NFC Playoffs in January, then they can and will beat Pittsburgh and win the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Besides, John McCain needs something to ease the pain of losing the presidential election.

A Super Bowl victory for his Arizona Cardinals wouldn’t be a bad start.


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