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Former St. Louis football Cardinals can clinch title -- against St. Louis Rams

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  • Former St. Louis football Cardinals can clinch title -- against St. Louis Rams

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Thursday, Dec. 04 2008
    For Bill Bidwill's football franchise, moments like this appear with the
    frequency of Halley's comet. But a victory Sunday by Bidwill's Arizona
    Cardinals clinches the franchise's first home playoff game since Harry S.
    Truman was president.

    One must go back to Dec. 28, 1947, when the Chicago Cardinals defeated
    Philadelphia 28-21 in the NFL championship game at Comiskey Park, to find the
    one and only Cardinals home playoff game.

    That's not the only long playoff drought that's about to end for the team known
    as the Big Red during its 28-season stay in St. Louis.

    — The Cardinals haven't appeared in a playoff game since 1998, the longest
    active playoff drought in the league.

    — They haven't won a division title since 1975, when coach Don Coryell's St.
    Louis Cardinals went 11-3 in the regular season.

    Jim Hanifan, current Rams radio analyst, was offensive line coach for that '75
    team, which featured three Hall of Famers (offensive tackle Dan Dierdorf, tight
    end Jackie Smith and cornerback Roger Wehrli).

    The thunder-and-lightning backfield consisted of Jim Otis and Terry Metcalf.
    Mel Gray was the deep threat at wide receiver, with Jim Hart at quarterback.
    The offensive line yielded only eight sacks, which was an NFL record until the
    1988 Miami Dolphins allowed only seven. Jim Bakken was the clutch place-kicker
    for a team known as the Cardiac Cards: five of their 11 victories came by a
    touchdown or less.

    "It was a fun team and it had a tremendous attitude about itself," Hanifan
    said. "They felt, as time went on in that season, that they would not ever be
    denied. That they were going to win every game."

    But back then, only four teams made the playoffs in each conference, so winning
    your division didn't guarantee a home game. Alas, the Cardinals were the No. 3
    seed and lost their first-round game at Los Angeles against the Rams 35-23.

    Between 1974-76, the Cardinals went 31-11. That was the best it would get for
    pro football in St. Louis until a group known as the Greatest Show on Turf
    arrived in town a quarter-century later.

    But back then, in the mid '70s, "I thought we were going to continue on,"
    Hanifan recalled. "We had a great nucleus of football players."

    The success didn't last, nor did the Cardinals in St. Louis. The franchise
    moved to the Phoenix area after the 1987 season, where the best record it could
    manage was a 9-7 wild-card finish in '98.

    But that's all about to change. If the heavily favored Cardinals (7-5) defeat
    the Rams (2-10) Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, they will be NFC West
    champs.

    The "NFC West champions" T-shirts and hats are ready to be handed out Sunday,
    at the Rams' expense. For many St. Louis football fans over the age of 35, this
    could be a tough day. Our old team, with our old quarterback, winning our
    division.

    "Our goal is to go in and try to not let them win the championship," Rams coach
    Jim Haslett said. "They've done a good job over the years of accumulating
    players. Ken (Whisenhunt) has done a good job with the team, running the
    offense and getting those high-powered guys scoring points. So it's going to be
    a great challenge for us to go in and try to win up there."

    That's for sure. The Cardinals waxed the Rams 34-13 on Nov. 2 in St. Louis. The
    "old quarterback," Kurt Warner, threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie
    running back Tim Hightower rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown in his first
    NFL start.

    And with Whisenhunt as coach, the Cardinals have become very tough to beat in
    their state-of-the-art $450 million stadium. Since the start of the 2007
    season, the Cardinals are 10-3 at home, with their only home loss this season
    to the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

    "It's always exciting to have a chance to get into the playoffs," Whisenhunt
    said. "It's a very difficult thing to do in this league."

    Cardinals fans in the Valley of the Sun are pumped up, too, according to Warner.

    "There's definitely a lot more excitement here this year than at any time since
    I've been around," he said Wednesday. "It reminds me a little bit of St. Louis
    in those early years when there hadn't been a lot of success there, and it
    wasn't much of a football town at the time.

    "To be able to change that culture a little bit and have people excited about
    the games, filling up the stadium, doing the tailgating and all that stuff,
    it's fun to be a part of. That's the same kind of transition that we're seeing
    here and it's been fun."

    So would it be fun to clinch a title in front of his old team?

    "Not really," Warner said. "It's kind of a new time in a new place. My time
    there was special. I'm hoping to do some special things here as well."

  • #2
    Re: Former St. Louis football Cardinals can clinch title -- against St. Louis Rams

    I love St. Louis sports writers. THE CARDS MOVED AWAY...GET OVER IT...WRITE ABOUT THE RAMS

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    • Guest's Avatar
      Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals
      by Guest
      This may not be were it belongs but this is worthy of posting a World Series win by the same town our beloved Rams come from in the most viewed forum.

      There have been many years we have had better regular season success. But I can not remember a team pulling together and relying on each other more then this team did this postseason. They have four starting pitchers that are going to be free agents and their CF may not be back. Eck, Rolen, and Pujols were playing hurt. Pujols only has one RBI in the NLDS and was not hitting well in the World Series. But Yadi who was there worst batter all year was perhaps one of their best from the start of the playoff. They barely made the playoffs after Houston had a huge winning streak to try to come from behind but they did just enough to hold them off. Weaver was released by the Angels and turned into an Angel in the postseason. He looked like a bust in his first month in a Cardinal uniform. But he turned into another great acquisition by Jocketty (GM). He had the highest regular season ERA of any pitcher to get the win in the World Series clinching game. The Cardinals 83 wins were the lowest ever total by any team to win it all. The Cardinals lost players they came into the season counting on along the way such as Mulder the #2 pitcher entering the season Izringhausen their closer for several years now. Pujols went down for a month during a stretch where he was playing better baseball then any player ever had he was on pace for a monstrous season. Edmonds went down for an extended period of time and did not play hardly at all near the end of the season. But two veteran castoffs Spiezio and Preston Wilson stepped in and played well and the pitching coaches son Duncan a rookie came in and chipped in with over 20HRs. Jocketty the GM was criticized for not pulling off his magic at the deadline and after the deadline. He only got players such as Belliard, Weaver, and Preston Wilson and they did not resign Grudzielanek to play second in the off-season. The front office has a new stadium and more revenue coming in but they held their budget at where it was. People kept asking about why we did not get a proven second baseman, outfielder and a better starting pitcher when we let Mark Grudzielanek (2nd), Reggie Sanders (OF), and Matt Morris (SP) walk via free agency and they failed in the pursuit of a big name pitcher and outfielder they got out bid on. Well Walt did come through at second he picked up Belliard for almost nothing, Duncan and Wilson provided good production in the outfield, and Weaver became one of our best post-season pitchers.

      We have our own David and Goliath. David Eckstein the smallest guy on the field at 5 foot and some change wins the world series MVP he was a walk on in college.

      Congratulations Cardinals on a true team and organizational World Series Championship. Rams lets do the same in 2006 any one in can win the Cards proved that.

      ...
      -10-28-2006, 07:55 AM
    • RamWraith
      A day of flashbacks for St. Louis fans
      by RamWraith
      By Bernie Miklasz
      ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
      Monday, Dec. 08 2008
      GLENDALE, Ariz. — For a visitor from St. Louis, it was a surreal experience to
      stop by the Arizona Cardinals' locker room and stand near the afterglow of the
      franchise's first division title since 1975.

      After the Cardinals wiped out the Rams 34-10, team owner Bill Bidwill was
      hanging out with Larry Wilson and Jim Hart and Kurt Warner. Given each man's
      strong historical connections to St. Louis, you didn't know if you were in
      Arizona, Missouri, or the Twilight Zone.

      You expected Don Coryell and Dick Vermeil to walk in and join the fun. You
      didn't know whether to be happy or sad, watching this blended family of former
      Cardinals and former Rams come together to celebrate an important victory.

      "It was great to have the old timers back," said Wilson, the originator of the
      safety blitz and the first St. Louis Cardinal to be inducted into the Pro
      Football Hall of Fame. "We were up in the end zone yelling like hell. I'm about
      as hoarse as you can get."

      The star attractions: Warner and Hart, together.

      Wow.

      Hart and Warner, the last two Cardinals quarterbacks to lead the franchise to
      division championship. Hart did it in 1975, Warner this season.

      Hart and Warner are, without question, the two greatest quarterbacks in St.
      Louis NFL history.

      And on this day they shared a triumphant moment.

      Welcome to the crossroads of past and present.

      Hart appreciates Warner but joked that he REALLY appreciates Warner's
      receivers, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.

      "Kurt throws the ball so well," Hart said. "And boy, does he have some targets.
      I was watching that first quarter and I turned to somebody and said, 'I can't
      believe how open the Cardinals receivers are. I think I could throw to those
      guys today.' Don't get me wrong. I liked the guys that I played with. But it's
      like I always told Mel Gray and Pat Tilley, 'Gee whiz, I wish you guys were
      three inches taller.' ''

      Warner, ever the gentleman, wanted Hart to know how much it meant to have him
      there on this big day. Hart was the Cardinals' honorary team captain. He was
      joined by a gang of 1970s-era St. Louis teammates that included Wilson, Bob
      Rowe, Steve Jones, Terry Miller, Donny Anderson, Tim Kearney, Keith Wortman,
      Ron Yankowski, Tom Brahaney, Tim Van Galder and Jerry Holloway (who sang the
      national anthem).

      "It was terrific to recognize those Cardinals," Warner said. "Men like Jim Hart
      defined the organization during a successful period, and in a sense they paved
      the way for all of us. It added to the day to have them...
      -12-09-2008, 11:15 AM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Thomas: Feisty Rams Ready For Cardinals
      by r8rh8rmike
      Feisty Rams ready for Cardinals

      9 hours ago • BY JIM THOMAS • [email protected]

      With the expansion of the NFL Network's Thursday night football package, all 32 teams get a crack at a prime-time game in 2012.

      So when it came to the woebegone Rams and the post-Kurt Warner Arizona Cardinals, you could almost hear the network executives saying back at scheduling time: Let's pair these two, just to get them out of the way.

      Lo and behold, the NFC West has grown fangs this season. It's the best division in football over the first month of the season. The Cardinals at 4-0 are one of only three unbeaten teams; the Rams at 2-2 are suddenly feisty under new coach Jeff Fisher.

      Just like that, tonight's 7:20 kickoff at the Edward Jones Dome is a pretty good matchup. The Rams haven't been host to a Thursday night game since late in the 2007 season, a 41-24 loss to Pittsburgh. With thousands of Steelers fans in the dome that night waving Terrible Towels, Marshall Faulk had his jersey number retired, Isaac Bruce played his last home game as a Ram — and oh yeah — Torry Holt could be seen screaming at then-coach Scott Linehan on the St. Louis sideline.

      There will be a lot going today as well, including a lunchtime pep rally featuring Faulk at Kiener Plaza. Instead of Terrible Towels, fans will be waving pink rally towels as part of the NFL efforts at breast cancer awareness.

      And as usually is the case when St. Louis' football past (Cardinals) meets its football present (Rams) in the Gateway City, Bill Bidwill's Big Red will host a reception for former St. Louis Cardinals. Fitting then, that the Rams will introduce Rams — and Cardinals — legend Warner, an NFL Network commentator, to the dome crowd during a break in the first quarter.

      As for what happens on the field, the Rams will be trying to get above the .500 mark for the first time in more than 2,100 days.

      "Geez," defensive end Chris Long said, jolted by that number. "I was a sophomore in college. I've never been over .500 (as a Ram). Correct me if I'm wrong, I don't think I have."

      He's not wrong.

      The Rams haven't been above .500 — not even 1-0 — since sporting a 4-3 record on Nov. 4, 2006, or nearly a year and a half before drafting Long No. 2 overall in 2008.

      "It's a new day here," Long said. "Certainly, the past four years — they were tough. For us it's just nice to be able to move on and compete in football games every Sunday and have an opportunity to win 'em."

      Or Thursday, as the case may be. But as the rest of the league begins to take notice of the NFL's new black-and-blue division — the NFC West — the Rams remain largely off the radar.

      "The media likes to point out Seattle," safety Craig Dahl said. "They like to point out how Arizona's...
      -10-04-2012, 01:12 PM
    • Nick
      Arizona looks like (gulp) playoff contender
      by Nick
      Arizona looks like (gulp) playoff contender
      By Scott Bordow, Tribune Columnist

      EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE (Mesa, Ariz.) Where's the key? Oh, there it is. Top row, right-hand corner.
      I've used the letter P before when writing about the Cardinals. But usually I have to buy a vowel after hitting it.
      Pathetic. Putrid. Pitiful.

      Playoffs?

      Yeah, way back in 1998, when Jake Plummer was still the darling of Arizona sports fans.

      Since then, however, I've avoided the wishful thinking that comes with a Cardinals victory.

      If they can win next week they'll be right back in it. Look at their schedule.
      They can win those games.

      Then, of course, Arizona loses that winnable game, and the elevator lands with a thud. Or, to put it in football vernacular, the Cardinals 49er it. So, with full awareness of how fragile the limb is that I'm climbing on, I hereby proclaim that the Cardinals are — oh, goodness, am I really saying it? — playoff contenders.

      Someone get me a drink to calm my nerves.

      Yes, it sounds crazy. Arizona is 4-5 after its 17-14 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday. That's not playoff material. That's a Las Vegas lounge act.

      But in the low tide pool that's the NFC, the Cardinals can spread their wings and take flight to parts unknown.

      Arizona is one game out of the final wild card spot. More amazingly, it's just one game out of the lead in the NFC Worst, er, West.

      If the Cardinals can beat 2-7 Carolina this Sunday, they'll be a .500 team and . . .

      Hey, Bordow, didn't you read what you wrote a few paragraphs up? Quit dreaming. These are the Cardinals.

      Yeah, I know that.

      But at some point, we have to acknowledge coach Dennis Green is onto something.

      The Cardinals have gone 4-2 since starting the season 0-3.

      They're 3-1 at Sun Devil Stadium and have won three straight at home for the first time since 1999.

      Of their final seven opponents, only three — the New York Jets, St. Louis and Seattle — have winning records.

      It's enough to make an overgrown man get too big for his britches.

      “Winning two straight games is nothing to get excited about,” said nose tackle Russell Davis. “We'll look back on that after our playoff game and say that's
      where the streak got started.”

      OK, this may be a good time for a few rational thoughts:

      - The Cardinals are 4-5, not 6-3. Who isn't 4-5 in the NFL?

      - Had Arizona not successfully navigated the game-winning, fourth-quarter drive in Miami last week, we'd already have written its obituary.

      - The Cardinals were 4-2 in 2002 and 6-6 in 1999. They finished 5-11 and 6-10, respectively.

      “Man, anything can happen,” said tackle...
      -11-16-2004, 07:38 AM
    • RamWraith
      Rams hope to end season with a win over Cardinals
      by RamWraith
      Arizona won earlier meeting
      BY STEVE KORTE
      News-Democrat

      It's a merciful ending to disappointing and injury-riddled seasons for both the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals.

      Yet Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said he was looking forward to his team's season-ending matchup against the Cardinals at 3:15 p.m. today at University of Phoenix Stadium.

      "I am looking to have fun," Bulger said. "It doesn't mean anything as far as playoffs and all that, but anytime you go out there, you enjoy yourself and you remember the times when you weren't on a team, or that people are in hospitals or in different countries or Iraq. I mean, just be thankful."

      Bulger said he had time to reflect on his blessings as the Rams had a sort of Christmas break with three of the next four days off after their 41-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 20.

      "You get family in, and they tell you about their problems, so maybe your problems aren't that bad," Bugler said. "I had a friend whose mother had to go into the hospital yesterday with something life-threatening out of the blue. Things can happen. When you are in the day-to-day grind, you don't realize it.

      "But getting those couple days off, you don't shut down football and think that it is not important anymore, but you kind of do put it into perspective a little bit."

      With a 3-12 record, the Rams need a win just to tie their 1998 squad for the worst record since the franchise moved to St. Louis in 1995.

      Rams coach Scott Linehan, who was given a vote of confidence from team President John Shaw a couple of weeks ago, wants to end the season with a win before beginning what figures to be a busy offseason.

      "You want to finish what you start, and have a good last game regardless," Linehan said. "We're playing a division opponent on the road. It would be nice for us to be able to go there and perform well and go away with a victory."

      The Cardinals are 7-8 and hoping to post their best record since 1998 and their third nonlosing season since 1984 by finishing at .500.

      Arizona has dealt with the loss of quarterback Matt Leinart to a season-ending collar bone injury during a 34-31 win over the Rams on Oct. 7 at the Edward Jones Dome and the loss of strong safety Adrian Wilson to a season-ending heel injury a few weeks later.

      Former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner has assumed a full-time role since Leinart's injury. The Arizona Republic reported this week that Warner could earn as much as $1.5 million in incentive bonuses if he plays well against the Rams.

      Bulger said he consulted Warner earlier this month when he was deciding whether it was safe for him to play after suffering a concussion.

      "A lot of times you can get pressured in this business...
      -12-30-2007, 08:20 AM
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