It was a rare nationally televised affair for the Cardinals, as the Dallas Cowboys came to town on a steamy night where the thermometer stood at 101 degrees at kickoff, to do what they had done for almost seven straight years, and 13 straight victories.
It looked like a typical Cards/Cowboys game as Cards QB Kent Graham was harrassed, bashed, beaten, and booed relentlessly after fumbling three times, losing all three, with one directly leading to Dallas’ only TD of the night just before half time.
This was a game that the defending Super Bowl Champs, who beat the Pittsburgh Steelers just seven months earlier to take home the Lombardi Trophy on this same field, just couldn’t give away. The champs were 10 point favorites, too.
The Cowboys had 13 penalties for 115 yards, including a 15-yarder when Emmitt Smith himself was caught and flagged under what came to be known as “The Emmitt Rule”, taking his helmet off while on the field.
Despite not scoring an offensive touchdown, Dallas held a 19-7 lead at the half. They increased it to a 15-point lead before the Cards scored on a seven-yard Graham to Frank Sanders TD pass.
But Dallas held a 22-14 lead after three quarters. They had a chance to go on top 25-14 with 3:42 left, to lock up victory in regulation, but a blocked field goal kept the reeling Cardinals faint hopes at victory alive.
The beleaguered Graham, ignored the smattering of boos as he came on to the field, and went to work.
Arizona pulled within 22-20 with 1:06 left in regulation on a one-yard touchdown pass from Graham to tight Pat Carter, who beat linebacker Vinson Smith.
They tied the game on a Graham to Rob Moore 2 point conversion that had the faithful smelling victory.
Sherman Williams, in for rib-bruised Emmitt during overtime, fumbled to set Arizona's game-winning drive in motion.
The Cardinals had a second-and-7 from the Dallas 32 yard line. Graham hit Larry Centers with a 29-yard pass to the 3-yard line when Dallas blew their coverage.
The Dallas defense held, but Kevin Butler kicked the ensuing 20 yarder off, and then through the uprights, giving the Big Red an amazing comeback victory.
After losing 13 straight times to the team most fans hated the most is bound to set up an emotional response when that albatross is finally extinguished.
Cardinals fans poured onto the field to celebrate with the team in the North end zone. I was one of them.
The fans ended up pulling the goal post out of the ground at SDS, and dragged it out the building as the rest of the faithful inside cheered them on relentlessly!
The crowd, apparently oblivious or just not caring, dragged the stolen artifact right past the Tempe Police Station, before heading up Mill Avenue with it.
It was found the next morning resting on the edge of the Salt River in what turned out to be a not-so-proud moment in Cardinals history.
But I, for one, couldn’t possibly care less what anyone thought. The Cardinals beat Dallas, and the monkey was off our back!