It is astonishing to look back at the Cardinals magical Super Bowl run and realize that is was roughly four years ago. Had it not been for that game winning catch by Santonio Holmes (yes it was a legitimate catch) the Cardinals would have been the victors in Tampa. Of course there were calls that were missed that could have swayed the score in either direction and nothing will ever take the sting of losing on the last drive away. Players like Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, Lyle Sendlein, Levi Brown, and recently reacquired Karlos Dansby all still feel that sting.
But what if Ben Roethlisberger hadn’t completed that pass with 35 seconds left? What if the pass was intercepted? What would be different? For starters, the Arizona Cardinals would be world champions…let that sink in for a minute. The parade, streamers, and yes the Lombardi Trophy would have come to the desert instead.
Larry Fitzgerald, arguably the most coveted player in all of Arizona sports, would have finally received the ring that we all know he deserves. The underdog would have been the victor, and it would have been a story for the ages. Now this may not have changed the 2009 season where the Cardinals lost painfully to the eventual Super Bowl XLIV Champion Saints (yes that is also the year of “bounty gate”).
I think the biggest change would have been with Kurt Warner. Getting another ring on that man’s hand would have changed a lot. He probably would have given one more year, maybe two. Kurt would have postponed one of the team’s worst seasons in 2010 by maintaining our offensive efficiency that was so greatly missed when he left.
Cardinals fans would have loved to see the gunslinger be able to get on the field with the new additions (via the draft) of Dan Williams, Daryl Washington, Andre Roberts, and O’Brien Schofield. Even further down the road, the trade for Kevin Kolb would not have happened, giving them the best 1-2 punch in the NFL with Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and Patrick Peterson.
Lastly I think Arizona’s legacy would have been different. Kurt would have immediately been placed in the ring of honor upon retiring, and guys like Adrian Wilson may have stayed together to be placed into the ring of honor as well. Fans would burn the old paper bags, buy themselves some jerseys and actually call the University of Phoenix stadium “home.”
Losing Super Bowl 43 may have changed the story of the franchise, but the sting of that loss still motivates and pushes the remaining cast of Super Bowl 43 to get back there and get the job done.