Whenever I think of the Atlanta Falcons, I think back to the Arizona Cardinals January 3, 2009 playoff game — and the incredible 30-24 victory that was the first step in the team’s march to the Super Bowl.
No one gave the Cardinals much of a chance, but they played a great game. Edgerrin James returned from an unproductive regular season to gain 73 yards, and the Cardinals defense stopped Michael Turner, holding him to only 43 yards on 18 carries.
The game featured two unusual touchdowns by the Cardinals — a flea ficker from Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald and a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Antrel Rolle, who scampered into the end zone after a loose ball popped right into his hands.
Anquan Boldin also caught a long touchdown pass — on a play where he injured his hamstring running into the end zone and which kept him out of the next playoff game against the Carolina Panthers.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Ralph Brown also had key interceptions.
But the play of the game came at the end of the fourth quarter. With about two minutes to go and the Falcons out of time-outs, Warner faced a third down and 16. He dropped back to pass and found a wide open Stephen Spach for a first down, allowing the Cardinals to ice the game and advance to the playoffs.
You can view the highlights of the game here:
Perhaps the Cardinals can recapture some of that magic they exhibited in the playoffs as they face the Falcons again on Sunday.