Emmitt Smith’s best game as a member of the Arizona Cardinals took place during a 2004 triumph over the New Orleans Saints.
When the Arizona Cardinals brought the great Emmitt Smith to the desert back in 2003, the organization knew that the running back’s best days were behind him.
In fact, Smith‘s first campaign with the Cards was downright embarrassing. In 10 appearances (five starts) for the team in 2003, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher totaled a measly 256 yards on the ground and scored just two touchdowns. Arizona was obviously disappointed, and many observers wondered if Smith would return for a second season with the club the following fall.
Much to his credit, Smith did come back to give the Cardinals a little bang for their buck in 2004. While his overall play reminded no one of his Pro Bowl days with the Dallas Cowboys, the 35-year-old’s final statistics (937 rushing yards, nine touchdowns) were certainly respectable.
Hall of Famer gave Arizona Cardinals his best during a game in October of 2004
Smith’s greatest performance with the Redbirds occurred on October 3rd of 2004, during a home matchup with the New Orleans Saints. Only 28,109 fans attended the clash that day at Sun Devil Stadium, but the ones who did were treated to one heck of a show by the future Hall of Famer.
Former head coach Dennis Green’s Cardinals were 0-3 when they took the field that afternoon and badly needed a spark. As it turned out, it would take an eight-time Pro Bowler like Smith to give it to them.
Following a costly second-quarter fumble by Smith at the Saints‘ goal line, the 5-foot-9, 216-pounder managed to bounce back. Just minutes after his mistake, Smith completed the first and only pass attempt of his professional existence. Cards running back Obafemi Ayanbadejo was on the receiving end of the 21-yard touchdown toss that gave Arizona a 13-3 lead at the time.
Another big moment for Smith came with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter. The veteran back showed glimpses of his old self on a 29-yard burst to paydirt. Smith scampered virtually untouched into the New Orleans end zone, a score that gave the Cardinals a healthy 27-10 advantage.
When the final gun sounded, the Cards had recorded a 34-10 blowout over the Saints. Smith finished with 127 rushing yards, 18 receiving yards and accounted for two of the offense’s touchdowns. There’s no doubt that Smith was awarded a game-ball in the Arizona locker room following the triumph.
The two seasons that Smith spent with “Big Red” will not rank as a franchise highlight. However, what Smith accomplished on that October day versus the Saints gave Cardinals fans a fond memory of the most prolific ball-carrier in NFL history.