To narrow the most painful games in the Arizona Cardinals history is a very hard task. Most losses are upsetting for fans regardless of the significance of the game and the Cardinals have had plenty of losses over the years. There are three agonizing games the Cardinals have experienced in the last ten years that have a significant amount of pain associated with them.
A 27-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII tops this list of painful games. It wasn’t just that the Cardinals lost their chance at a championship, but how they lost was the most excruciating. Larry Fitzgeralds 64-yard touchdown with 2:37 left in the fourth quarter put the Cardinals up 23-20, and the Cardinals were thrilled…..for the next two minutes and two seconds. The Steelers drove 78 yards to score on a Santonio Holmes six yard touchdown catch with 35 seconds left to ultimately win the game, ending a great Cardinals season in the most painful way possible.
The next game was on October 16, 2006. If the words “The Bears are who we thought they were” are ever uttered, the Cardinals and their fans shake their head in disgust. A Matt Leinart led Cardinal team had the unbeaten Chicago Bears on the ropes on Monday Night Football going into the third quarter up 20-0. The Cardinals forced six turnovers, didn’t allow an offensive touchdown, and limited the Bears to nine first downs…..and lost. The game actually made NFL Networks’ top ten list of the biggest meltdowns in the history of the NFL, ranking #7.
On December 28, 2003 the Cardinals beat the Minnesota Vikings, and in doing so provided the most painful win in their history. Josh McCown’s dramatic last-second touchdown to Nate Poole knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs making the Cardinals 3-13 on the year. The reason this was an awful win is that the Arizona Cardinals would have had the first overall pick in the 2004 draft had they lost. A draft that included Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers competing for the number one pick. Yes, the Cardinals ended up with Larry Fitzgerald at pick #3, arguably the best player the franchise has ever had, but there have been many top receivers available since 2004 (Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Julio Jones), and the Cardinals are still searching for the Franchise quarterback that they have lacked since Neil Lomax.