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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

November 8, 1987: The Bucs Stop Here

- - - - - The outlook for the 1987 St. Louis Football Cardinals was bleak to say the least. The team had just come off two consecutive 11-loss seasons and the duo of dwindling attendance and an aging stadium threatened the team's stay in Missouri. By this time next season, the Big-Red would be playing in a new city with new fans. Yet, in 1987, the Cards would give the St. Louis faithful one final, wild ride.
- - - - - The excitement began on opening day, when the Cardinals hosted the Dallas Cowboys. The low-scoring contest had Dallas out in front 13-3 late in the fourth period, and it appeared as if the Cowboys were on their way to another win over their NFC East rival. But, QB Neil Lomax had other plans; he was about to lead his team to one of the most amazing final 2:00 in NFL history. After moving 50 yards in just four plays, Lomax hit WR Roy Green with a 16-yard touchdown pass. Now, the lead was only 13-10 with 1:58 remaining. Then, St. Louis recovered the on-side kick and proceeded to move the ball into the Cowboys' territory once again. A 25-yard Stump Mitchell reception set up another Roy Green TD catch and surprisingly, the Cardinals jumped ahead, 17-13, with 0:53 remaining. Thus, in a span of only 65 seconds, St. Louis managed to score two touchdowns. But, they were not done yet: Cowboys' QB Danny White would fumble away his team's final chance. This turn-over then set up Earl Ferrell's 19-yard TD run with 0:19 on the clock. Gallery's successful extra-point try made the final score 24-13 in favor of the Cardinals, a far cry from the 13-3 Dallas lead only two minutes earlier.
- - - - - This three-touchdown rally at the two-minute warning was undoubtedly a great accomplishment, but in paled in comparison to the incredible feat the Cards would pull off in November. But first, the NFL underwent another players' strike in the third week of the season. Games for the September 27 weekend were canceled and the following three weeks involved primarily replacement players. As these substitutes bumbled their way along the field, the Cardinals record declined, as did their attendance. The strike was soon resolved, and when the Cards headed into their game against Tampa Bay with all the starters back, the team had a lowly 2-5 record. Also, a franchise move was in the works as owner Bill Bidwill was entertaining offers from other cities including Phoenix, Baltimore, and Jacksonville.
- - - - - The home contest against the playoff-hopeful, 4-4 Buccaneers drew just over 22,000 fans, reflecting the fans' disgust at Bidwill's antics. In fact, prior to this game on Saturday, Bidwill had received a death threat over the telephone and was guarded by police at the stadium. Despite the small crowd, the Cards gave the city a win to remember.
- - - - - Tampa Bay jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and was in front 14-3 at the half. Then, after another 14-point explosion, the Bucs took a seemingly insurmountable 28-3 lead into the final period. Still, things would get worse before they got any better. With 14:20 left in the game, the Cardinals were stuck at the Bucs' 43 with a 4th-and-2 situation. Instead of going for the short-yardage, however, Neil Lomax launched a pass to a wide-open Stump Mitchell at the Bucs' 3 yard-line. TE Robert Awalt would later catch the TD pass and bring the Cards within 18 points with less than fourteen minutes remaining. Then, one minute later, Tampa Bay RB James Wilder would fumble in his own territory and LB would return it 24 yards for the Cardinals' score, closing the gap to 28-17.
- - - - - St. Louis now had reason to believe they could win. Just three minutes later, with great field position, the Cardinals would string together a five-play drive culminating in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Lomax to J.T. Smith. With 8:18 left, the Cards now only needed four points to erase the 25-point fourth-quarter deficit. With time running out, St. Louis finally put together one more heroic push, covering 80 yards in eight plays. Another J.T. Smith 17-yard TD catch with 2:01 remaining finally put the Redbirds in front, 31-28. However, if there was any flaw with this incredible 28-point rally, it was that they had left too much time on the clock.
- - - - - Two weeks earlier, the Bucs squandered a 12-point lead to the Bears in the final six minutes, and in the previous week, the Bucs almost blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead over Green Bay before hanging on for a 23-17 victory. Seeing their playoff hopes slipping away in such a fashion must have pushed them harder, and despite surrendering 28 fourth-quarter points to the Cardinals, they knew they still had a chance to win. With 1:51 left, QB Steve DeBerg moved his team down the field, starting at his own 8-yard line. Then, 66 yards later, the Bucs were in position to send the game into overtime. On the final play of regulation, kicker Donald Igwebuike sent the football into the St. Louis sky, 53 yards away from its mark. Unfortunately for him, though, the ball only traveled 52.5 of these yards, bouncing off the cross-bar and falling back onto the gridiron. The moisture in the air and on the goal-posts was almost enough to send the ball sliding through, but not on this November evening. The Cardinals' 25-point comeback is the third-largest in NFL regular-season history (topped only by the 49ers' 28-point comeback against New Orleans and the Bills' 26-point comeback against the Colts), and the fourth-largest of all-time (Buffalo's 32-point comeback against Houston occurred in the playoffs). However, considering the time remaining when these rallies began, St. Louis' four touchdowns in the final 13:42 ranks the highest.

NEXT : March 15, 1988 - After falling short of the playoffs at Dallas in their final game as the "St. Louis Cardinals," Bill Bidwill secures a franchise relocation to Phoenix, Arizona.

1996-2001, by "The Cardinal"
(This page is not affiliated with the NFL or the Arizona Cardinals)