It’s tough being a football fan these days.  With all of the draft discus..."/> It’s tough being a football fan these days.  With all of the draft discus..."/>

While We Are Waiting: The Top Ten Plays of the Last Three Years

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In fact, I’ve now identified my top 10 moments of Cardinals games during the last three years.  Here, in date order, are my choices … with a link to each video so you can enjoy those moments again, too.

1. The blocked punt against Dallas – A classic moment in Cardinals history.  Sean Morey blocks a punt against the Dallas Cowboys in overtime, Monty Beisel picks up the loose ball, and scores a touchdown.  Game over.  I think it was after this October game that I began thinking the Cardinals could finally make the playoffs again.

2. Goal-line stop against San Francisco – The Cardinals were on the national stage in Phoenix for a Monday night divisional matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, and seemed to have control of a sloppily played game.  However, with the score 29-24 in favor of the Cardinals, the 49ers threatened to steal a win as they drove deep inside Cardinals territory.  With the seconds ticking away, Frank Gore looked like he had a touchdown on a sweep going left, but slipped and was stopped short of the goal line.  The 49ers lined up quickly, and called a run up the middle. Clark Haggans stuffed Michael Robinson, the clock expired, and the Cardinals pulled out a heart pounding win.  It was after this game that I realized we were not looking at the “same old Cardinals’ but a team that was able to rise to the occasion when it mattered most. 5:30 Mark of:

3. DRC returns an interception 99 yards against the Rams – The Cardinals had an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot against the St. Louis Rams, and Warner had one of his more impressive games against his former team.  However, it was this magnificent interception by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie that finally sealed the victory – and assured the team of a divisional championship and a playoff spot.

4. Boldin’s 71-yard TD against Atlanta – No one gave the Cardinals much of a chance against the Atlanta Falcons in this first-round playoff matchup.  But the Cardinals definitely came to play, and it was this beautifully executed 71-yard touchdown to Anquan Boldin that set the tone for the game – and helped the Cardinals advance to the next round of the playoffs.  Ironically, this also was the play where Boldin injured his hamstring, which forced him out of the Carolina game the following week.

5. Antonio Smith strips the ball from Jake Delhomme and recovers the fumble – This one probably has some folks scratching their heads as to why it made the list.  Why not choose one of the five interceptions the Cardinals collected in this amazing playoff victory against the Carolina Panthers? Well, for one, Smith’s play was an incredible individual defensive effort – look at the highlight and you’ll see that Smith stripped the ball and recovered the fumble all in one motion.  In addition, it completely rattled Delhomme, and he never could regain his composure after that play, in a game the Cardinals ended up totally dominating. First 30 seconds of:

6. Flea flicker, Warner to Fitzgerald – You’ve probably seen this highlight a dozen times, from the playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC Championship.  The truth is that this pass from Warner to Larry Fitzgerald was not very well thrown.  However, the ruse with JJ Arrington was beautifully executed, and it was the fact that the Cardinals had the guts to call such a trick play in a Championship Game that made it so special.

7. Hightower picks up a first down on 4th and 1Tim Hightower actually had several very big plays in the same playoff game against the Eagles, but perhaps the biggest play was Hightower sweeping for six yards and gaining a first down on a 4th and 1 play.  If he were stopped, the ball would have returned to the Eagles and the prospect of a Cardinals victory would have been dim.  Instead, it moved the chains, and Hightower ended up scoring the winning touchdown a little later.  I distinctly remember breathing a sigh of relief after Hightower picked up the first down, knowing the Cardinals still had a chance to pull out a victory. 6:15 mark of:

8. Warner to Fitzgerald for a 64-yard touchdown in the Super Bowl – This play symbolizes everything that was great about the Warner-Fitz tandem – a perfectly thrown pass by Warner to Fitzgerald, who caught the ball in stride and outran the entire Pittsburgh Steelers defense to the goal line for the go-ahead score.  I remember thinking after this play, “Oh my goodness, we actually could win the Super Bowl!” (Of course, Ben Rothlesberger and Santonio Holmes had some other ideas.)

9. Karlos Dansby returns fumble for a touchdown against Green Bay – It was a classic playoff match, where Kurt Warner and Aaron Rodgers each had remarkable offensive games, tearing apart the other team’s defense.  Ironically, the game ended on a defensive play in overtime, where Michael Adams stripped the ball from Rodgers, and Dansby strode into the end zone on the game-winning play.

10. Jay Feely scores a touchdown on a fake field goal against the Broncos – In a 2010 Cardinals season that had many more low lights than highlights, this play by Feely stands out as one of the more exciting plays of the year.  Lining up for a field goal, Ben Graham flipped the ball to Feely after the snap, and Feely galloped into the end zone for a score.  Wow!

What are your favorite Cardinals plays from the last three years?  What highlights did I miss?  Please post your thoughts in the comments section.

PS – While researching this article, I came across six more great plays, which didn’t make the cut because they were not as impactful to the game.  However, they are still terrific plays.  The links appear below…enjoy!