I: Sept. 17, 1920
II: Nov. 7, 1920
III: Nov. 28, 1920
IV: Oct. 7, 1923
V: Nov. 26, 1925
VI: Dec. 6, 1925
VII: Nov. 6, 1929
VIII: Nov. 28, 1929
IX: Oct. 24, 1933
X: Nov. 28, 1935
XI: Oct. 14, 1945
XII: Apr. 19, 1947
XIII: Dec. 28, 1947
XIV: Dec. 19, 1948
XV: Mar. 23, 1959
XVI: Mar. 13, 1960
XVII: Dec. 6, 1964
XVIII: Nov. 7, 1965
XIX: Nov. 16, 1970
XX: Dec. 27, 1975
XXI: Jan. 8, 1983
XXII: Dec. 16, 1984
XXIII: Nov. 8, 1987
XXIV: Mar. 15, 1988
XXV: Dec. 23, 1990
XXVI: Dec. 24, 1994
CARDINAL CHRONICLE XX
December 27, 1975: Cardiac Arrest
- - - - - Throughout their history, the Cardinals have always been an exciting team to watch. Usually this excitement would find
its origin in the players' ineptitude, when horribly busted plays would somehow lead to big gains. Yet, as the 1970s progressed, the team
began to produce thrills through its spectacular gameday heroics and last-minute drives. The heart-stopping play earned the team the
nickname of "Cardiac Cards."
- - - - - Perhaps what made this team even more exciting to watch was the coaching of Don Coryell. "Air" Coryell's strategy, as his
nickname would suggest, heavily relied on the forward pass, and the Cardinals, quite literally, took to the skies. QB Jim Hart would be
frequently seen heaving passes through the air to receivers like Mel Gray and J.V. Cain. Meanwhile, the team's record also soared upward,
and after three consecutive 4-9-1 seasons, the Cards finally returned to the post-season in 1974 after a 22 year absence.
- - - - - In their final game of the regular season, the Cards defeated the New York Giants, 26-14, clinching their first NFC Eastern
Division title with a 10-4 record, tying them for first in the conference. However, the tie-breaking procedures made the Cards the third
seed, and due to the fact that only four teams from each conference qualified for the post-season, St. Louis had to spend the first round
on the road. Even more unfortunate was the fact that their opponent was the Minnesota Vikings, a team still playing its home games outdoors
at Metropolitan Stadium. The weather and, more importantly, the Vikings' defense got to the Cardinals, forcing two turnovers that would
lead to touchdowns. When it was finally over, Minnesota went on with the 30-14 victory.
- - - - - Instead of rolling about in their misery, St. Louis came back even stronger in 1975. Despite the emphasis on an aerial style
of play, the team's success also depended on the running of FB Jim Otis and the all-around play of Terry Metcalf, who would set an NFL record
for all-purpose yardage that would stand for a decade. These players, as well as Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf, would once again lead the Cards
to the top of the NFC East, this time clinching the division title in the thirteenth week. Their 11-3 record was their best since 1948, but
the home-field advantage would again go to their opponent, this time the 12-4 Los Angeles Rams. Instead of freezing in the northern tundra,
the Cards wilted in the southern California desert. The Rams' Lawrence McCutcheon pounded the Big-Red defense, gaining over 200 yards. Meanwhile,
Coryell's strategy backfired as two of Hart's passes were intercepted and returned for TDs in the first half. The Cardinals were never really in
this one, trailing 28-9 at the half, and finally falling 35-23. So, with what was perhaps their best squad since the 1940s, the Cards were once
again eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
- - - - - The 1976 season saw similar heart-stopping action, and much of the same success. However, two of the most crucial games would
come down to the wire before being won by the opponents. After ten games, the Cards were tied for first place at 8-2 and in prime playoff position.
But consecutive losses to Washington (16-10, with last-second TD nullified by the officials) and Dallas (19-14, with St. Louis on the Cowboys' 8
yard-line late in the game) four days apart severely hurt their playoff aspirations. Despite winning the final two games and finishing with an
impressive 10-4 record, the Cards failed to qualify for the playoffs.
- - - - - The Cards would never again have double-digit wins, even when the schedule was expanded to sixteen games. Only four times since
would they even finish above .500. By 1978, Don Coryell was gone, building a championship contender in San Diego. The magic would never return
to St. Louis, and in a decade, the city would be without a pro football team.
NEXT : January 8, 1983 - The strike-shortened 1982 season forces the NFL to expand
the playoffs into a sixteen-team tournament. The Cardinals qualify as the sixth seed in the NFC, but end the year on a familiar note.