The Cardinals were not expected to make the playoffs that year, but snuck in on the last game of the season, when Chris Jacke kicked a winning field goal against San Diego as time expired. It set up a Wild Card Playoff matchup against the Cowboys in Dallas, and no one gave the Cardinals much of a chance.
Well, the Cardinals played the game of their lives–and handily beat the Cowboys 20-7. The game featured two big offensive plays: a 74-yard run by Adrian Murrell and a 59-yard reception by Frank Sanders.
Jake Plummer threw two short touchdown passes to Adrian Murrell and Larry Centers. He went 19-36 and passed for 213 yards for the day, and didn’t get sacked.
Contrast that to Troy Aikman, who was harrassed all game by a ferocious Cardinals defense, which sacked him four times (two each by Jamir Miller and Andre Wadsworth) and forced three interceptions (two by Aeneas Williams). Aikman was able to churn out a paltry 164 yards passing. It actually could have been a shutout, save for a late Dallas score.
Unfortunately, the playoff excitement was short lived, as the Cardinals traveled to Minnesota the following week and got blown out by the Vikings.
Certainly a lot has changed about the Cardinals since that storied playoff game against the Cowboys. Back then, even one playoff victory was hugely satisfying. Today, after being so close to a Super Bowl trophy, the expectations are greater. But whenever the Cowboys and Cardinals play each other, there is a certain amount of excitement in the air. Maybe this year’s Cardinals can relive that old magic from the 1998 season, and upset the Cowboys on Sunday. We’ll see.