Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl bound!Posted: Updated:
GLENDALE - The Arizona Cardinals rallied to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 32-25 in the NFC championship Sunday afternoon, earning the first Super Bowl trip in their long and not-so-glorious history.
After the Cardinals jumped out to a 24-6 halftime lead behind a record-tying three touchdown catches by All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, the Eagles rallied for a 25-24 lead in the fourth quarter. But Arizona won it on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Tim Hightower from Kurt Warner with 2:53 to play - Warner's fourth touchdown throw.
Donovan McNabb was superb in leading Philadelphia's second-half rally, but he misfired from midfield four times in the final moments.
Arizona (12-7) will face the AFC champion in two weeks in Tampa for the NFL title. Baltimore played at Pittsburgh later in the day for the AFC crown.
If the Cardinals, the first No. 4 seed to host a conference championship game, were supposed to be thunderstruck by their surroundings, they instead responded like playoff veterans.
Sure, they blew a 24-6 halftime lead. But then Warner, a Super Bowl MVP from almost a decade ago with the St. Louis Rams, engineered a precise, 72-yard drive to win it with his fourth TD pass of the day.
He finished the comeback with the 8-yard pass to Hightower, then hit Ben Patrick for the 2-point conversion.
But the key was the unstoppable Fitzgerald, who had nine receptions for 152 yards, including two big catches on the decisive drive. The All-Pro set a single postseason record with 419 yards receiving, surpassing the great Jerry Rice. And Fitzgerald has one more game to go - in the Super Bowl.
Can you imagine?
They surely never looked this good before in the Phoenix area, or their previous homes in Chicago and St. Louis.
At the end, streams of confetti spewed into the air, Warner got some hugs from Eagles players, and the obligatory "We are the Champions" blared.
Yes, the Cardinals, founding members of the NFL, but historically among the most dysfunctional of franchises, finally have joined the big boys, and they are soaring to their first Super Bowl.
2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.