Category Archives: Arizona Cardinals

(Relatively) Calm Sunday

I have never seen Buffalo Wild Wings–at least store #0296, the one I frequent in Kansas City–this dead at 5:30 pm on an NFL Sunday. There are plenty of open seats at the bar, plenty of open seats in tables surrounding the bar, and quite a few tables available in the dining room.

I atributed today’s small crowd to three factors:

  1. The Chiefs played Thursday. That took away a lot of the crowd. The noon games, especially Broncos-Titans, drew a decent crowd, but certainly nowhere near as stuffed as it would have been had the Chiefs played. I didn’t mind. 
  2. The weather was nasty. No snow, but a light drizzle made the roads slick. Combined with the cold, but not frigid, temperatures, definitely kept some away. 
  3. Christmas is in two weeks. Probably a lot of people shopping. 

There were a pair of Dolphins fans sitting to my right at the bar while their team hosted the Cardinals. I made sure to keep my love for the Cards quiet. Nonetheless, I was dismayed to see Arizona lose. 

The Cardinals lost 26-23, thanks in large part to one missed extra point by kicker Chandler Catanzaro, and a second which was not only blocked, but returned by Miami for two points. Had those plays not occurred, and assuming Catanzaro would have gone 3-for-3 on extra points, the field goal the Dolphins kicked on the last play of regulation would have only sent the game to overtime tied at 24-24. Just another bad day in a lost season for the Cardinals, who are now 5-7-1. The last time the Cardinals were 5-7-1 was 1983, when they were in St. Louis. That year, the Cards beat the Giants, Raiders and Eagles in their last three games to pull out a winning record. I don’t see it happening, even though the Saints and Rams are quite winnable games, and the Seahawks haven’t been world beaters against Arizona, especially in Seattle, where the Cards have won two of the last three meetings.      

Of course, nobody in Kansas City cares much about the Cardinals. All they care about is the Chiefs, and many I’m sure have already made reservations to be in Houston February 5 for Super Bowl LI. I can only imagine if the Super Bowl is the Chiefs, who began life as the Dallas Texans in 1960 before moving to Kansas City after three seasons, and the Cowboys, who forced the late Lamar Hunt’s team out of north Texas. Of course, the fans from Houston who attend will certainly root for the Chiefs, since Houston HATES anything and everything about Dallas. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Cowboys, the Rangers, the Mavericks, the Stars, FC Dallas, TCU, SMU…even Dallas high schools are scorned in Space City. 

I’m leaving Buffalo Wild Wings before 6:30. This is my sixth day here, and considering I’ve spent a ton of time on this barstool, I don’t feel guilty. I need to get some work done at the hotel. I’m coming back tomorrow to see Tori and play The Pulse, the weekly 30-question sports quiz, at 7:30. I have to leave at 8:30 to get more work done. 

Robb and Dawn weren’t able to come today because they were busy making Christmas candy, but hopefully they’ll show up Tuesday. I’m leaving Wednesday to go back to Russell, because I’ve got four appointments in Hays Thursday, then I go to Norton Friday. 

There’s a new Hallmark Channel movie at 7 tonight. Bonnie Somerville, whom I recall fondly from her five-episode stint as Rachel Hoffman on The O.C., is starring. I was able to purchase two of the three Christmas movies starring Alicia Witt on iTunes, but “I’m Not Ready For Christmas” is not available. And it isn’t on DVD, either. 

Right now, I am the only customer at the bar at Buffalo Wild Wings. Geez. Talk about dead!

Pushes in the House of the Cards

If you don’t follow the NFL, or you’ve been away from your television, radio or computer since Sunday, the Cardinals and Seahawks played to a 6-6 draw (tie in American parlance) in the Sunday Night Football game at Glendale.

I didn’t watch any of it. I was too afraid the Cardinals would lose. I didn’t watch any of the Cardinals’ game vs. the Jets the previous Monday, either. I wasn’t about to get myself worked up after the egg Arizona laid in the season opener vs. the Patriots, who were without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

It was the first time the Seahawks have played to a draw in franchise history. Seattle came into the NFL in 1976, the third season there was sudden death overtime for regular season games.

Even though there has been overtime in the regular season since ’74, the Cardinals had drawn twice before Sunday since the rule was instituted: 20-20 vs. the Giants in 1983 on Monday Night Football (more on that later), and 10-10 at Philadelphia in 1986.

From 1974-2011, the overtime rules in the regular season were simple: first team to score wins. If the full 15-minute period went without a team scoring, the game ended drawn.

In 2012, the rule was changed–it had been changed for the playoffs in 2010–to where if the team receiving the overtime kickoff scored a field goal, the other team could  (a) match the field goal, at which time it became sudden death; (b) win the game with a touchdown; or (c) lose the game by failing to score or committing a turnover. If the team receiving the overtime kickoff did not score on its first possession, it automatically reverted to sudden death.

The Cards-Seahawks deadlock was the fourth under the new OT rules. It happened to the Rams and 49ers in 2012, Vikings and Packers in 2013, and Panthers and Bengals in 2014.

Prior to Sunday, the last NFL game to end drawn without either team scoring a touchdown occurred November 5, 1972, when the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles ended 6-6.

There have been three 6-6 draws in the NFL since 1939. All three have involved the Cardinals. The first was November 22, 1970, when St..Louis and the Chiefs deadlocked 6-6 at the old Municipal Stadium in Kansas City.

Jim Bakken was the kicker for the Cardinals from 1962-78. They could have used him Sunday. Chandler Catanzaro missed a 24-yard kick in overtime which would have won the game. Then again, Seattle’s Steven Hauschka missed from 27. OUCH.

Catanzaro and Hauschka reminded me of the 1983 Giants-Cards game which ended tied. It was at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis. Howard Cosell was NOT there, taking time off following the conclusion of the World Series, where he was a broadcaster for ABC, alongside Al Michaels and Earl Weaver. Instead, Orenthal James Simpson was in the booth with Frank Gifford and Don Meredith.

Seven days prior to Giants-Cards, the Redskins and Packers put on one of the most thrilling games in regular season history. Green Bay outlasted defending Super Bowl XVII champion Washington 48-47 when the Redskins’ Mark Moseley, the 1982 NFL Most Valuable Player, missed a field goal on the game’s final play. The Redskins didn’t lose again until Super Bowl XVIII, when they were humbled by the Raiders.

Giants-Cards was 180 degrees from Redskins-Packers.

It has been called the worst game ABC telecast on MNF, and I can see why. Cards kicker Neil O’Donoghue missed THREE field goals in overtime, including a 19-yard gimme, which is the equivalent of an extra point.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why Cards coach Jim Hanifan kept O’Donoghue. Had he cut him after his MNF fiasco, St. Louis might have won the NFC East the next season. An O’Donoghue miss on the final play of the 1984 finale at Washington which allowed the Redskins to win the division and keep the Cards home.

Why did Hanifan not try to score a TD when O’Donoghue missed the 19-yard field goal? He had a damn good running back in Ottis Anderson. He had two outstanding wideouts, Roy Green and Pat Tilley. What the hell? Was he that worried about a fumble? Come on, man. Even if the Cards fumbled that deep in their own territory, they might have won on a safety, given how putrid the Giants’ offense was that night.

Fortunately, the game lasted past midnight in the Central time zone, so most Americans were fast asleep by time it ended.

The New York Times described the game as “poorly played” with “an incredibly bad finish”. Sums it up.

The 1983 Giants were horrible, because the new coach, Duane Charles Parcells, better known as “Bill” or “The Big Tuna”, had the wonderful idea Scott Brunner and Jeff Rutledge were better quarterbacks than Phil Simms.

Smooth move, Ex-Lax.

If Ray Perkins had little or no confidence in Brunner being better than Simms, why should Parcells have? Parcells was on Perkins’ staff for three seasons. What, he didn’t see it in 7-on-7 drills? If Parcells was that enamored with Brunner, he should have just reacquired Joe Piscarcik. .

Parcells was very nearly fired after going 3-12-1. He survived, then thrived, with Big Blue, getting to the playoffs in 1984–the Giants’ first berth since losing the 1963 NFL championship game to the Bears–and winning Super Bowls in 1986 and 1990.

Strangely, the Cards and Seahawks played two overtime games in three seasons in the mid-1990s, long before they became division rivals. Arizona won in 1993 at the Kingdome on a late field goal by Greg Davis, and in 1995, won at Sun Devil Stadium on a 72-yard pick-six by Lorenzo Lynch.

The Cards’ history with Seattle dates to the Seahawks’ very first game, which St. Louis won 30-24 at the Kingdome on Sept. 12, 1976.

The odds the Cards (at Carolina) or Seahawks (at New Orleans) will play to a draw this week are very, very, very slim. Slimmer than Kate Moss. The last time a team played consecutive deadlocks was 1971, when the Raiders did vs. the Chiefs and Saints. Tom Brookshier, the late, great CBS broadcaster, described back-to-back deadlocks as “like kissing your sister when she’s got the mumps”.

New England hasn’t played a tie since October 8, 1967, when it was the BOSTON Patriots. Every other NFL team which was around in ’67 has played to a draw since the merger, as has Cincinnati, which came along in ’68. Expansion teams Tampa Bay, Carolina and the Baltimore Ravens all had prior to Sunday, and now Seattle joined that list.

No team has played more than one draw in a single season since 1973, the year before overtime in the regular season, when the Broncos, Browns, Chiefs and Packers all had two on their ledgers. The Broncos had two in three weeks in ’73; the first was against Oakland on MNF, the game where Don Meredith exclaimed, “We’re in the Mile High City, and so am I!”. One night after the Broncos’ second tie of the sequence, 17-17 at St. Louis, Meredith called President Nixon “Tricky Dick” while he was broadcasting the Redskins-Steelers game in Pittsburgh.

Now I’m droning on about history I’m sure three people might care about other than me. I’ll stop.

 

 

A lot since I last blogged…

There has been a lot of craziness since the last time I posted. I should have posted something Sunday or Monday with all that went on.

The trip home from Kansas City Saturday was uneventful. It was a good two days over there, a good break from the humdrum of Russell, Hays, Norton and other towns.

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez died in the wee hours of Sunday morning in a boating accident, along with two others. It was reported the operator of the boat, which was licensed to Fernandez, was traveling at high speed, much faster than was safe for that time of night. It crashed into a jetty, throwing the occupants around like rag dolls, and killing all three by blunt force trauma.

Arnold Palmer died Sunday evening. It was announced during the Bears-Cowboys game on NBC. Palmer, who was 87, was one of the most popular golfers who ever lived, and one of America’s most iconic athletes, period. His exploits on the course would be surpassed by Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and others, but nobody will ever come close to matching the popularity Arnie enjoyed during his heyday, and well after his retirement. In fact, he had recently been appearing in ads for the blood thinning medication Xarelto with NASCAR driver Brian Vickers and comedian Kevin Nealon, the longtime Saturday Night Live actor. I’ll always remember Palmer in the Pennzoil commercials of the 1980s.

The Arizona Cardinals looked mighty pathetic in Buffalo. The Bills won 33-18, and frankly, it was never that close. Buffalo gashed the Cardinals for over 200 yards rushing, and Carson Palmer looked like he had never seen an NFL defense. Palmer threw four interceptions in the fourth quarter. Let that sink in: four picks in one period. Brutal. I’ve seen this so often from the Cardinals in over three decades of following the NFL, but most of the time, I didn’t expect them to win. Now that the Cardinals are expected to win many of these games, it makes it much more frustrating.

The Cardinals play the Rams Sunday in Glendale. Yes, Arizona has won four of the last five meetings, but the one was last year in Arizona, when the Rams won 24-22, thanks in large part to Todd Gurley. If Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy can have that much success on the ground vs. Arizona, what will Gurley do? Oh boy.

The most important sports news of Sunday, at least to me, came out of my native state.

LSU, my alma mater, fired football coach Les Miles Sunday, 24 hours after the Bayou Bengals lost 18-13 at Auburn. LSU appeared to win the game when Danny Etling hit D.J. Chark along the sideline in the end zone on the last play of the game. I didn’t think LSU got the snap off before time ran out, and indeed, the officials concurred after reviewing it.

The next afternoon, I read on The Advocate website LSU was “considering” major changes to the football program. Then came a rumor Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron were going to be fired. Then it was confirmed.

Miles was very close to being fired last November when LSU lost three consecutive games to Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss following a 7-0 start. Miles’ job was saved only after LSU beat Texas A&M 19-7 in Baton Rouge in the regular season finale. The job appeared more secure after a 56-27 victory over Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl, but the 16-14 loss to Wisconsin at Green Bay in this year’s season opener had fans grumbling and only served to turn up the heat on Miles.

Miles was canned despite a 114-34 mark at LSU. He has the highest all-time win percentage in program history (.770), and his 114 wins rank him second only behind the 137 by “Cholly Mac”, Charles McClendon, who coached the Bayou Bengals from 1962-79. Miles won a national championship in 2007 despite triple overtime losses to Kentucky and Arkansas, and in 2011, LSU won its first 13 games against the nation’s most difficult schedule to reach the championship game, but were thoroughly embarrassed by Alabama in New Orleans. The Crimson Tide won 21-0 and held LSU to a meager 92 yards, fewest by any team in a championship game since 1998, the first year of the BCS.

LSU hasn’t won even an SEC West championship since 2012. It hasn’t finished any of the previous four seasons with fewer than three losses. I fear the Bayou Bengals may regress to the point where it falls behind Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M permanently.

Ed Orgeron, LSU’s defensive line coach, was named the interim coach. His first game is Saturday night vs. Missouri in Death Valley. Orgeron was head coach at Ole Miss in 2005, ’06 and ’07 and was a miserable failure, going 10-25 overall and 3-21 in SEC games. He also was arrested for DUI, and committed some recruiting violations, violations which are still casting a shadow over the program even though Orgeron has been gone from Oxford for nine years.

Orgeron was interim coach at USC in 2013 after Lane Kiffin was fired, and went 6-2 with the Trojans. Some felt he should have been given the job permanently, given his ties to Pete Carroll as an assistant on  USC’s back-to-back AP national championships of 2003 and 2004, but the Trojans made the disastrous hire of Steve Sarkisian, who didn’t last two full seasons.

This is Orgeron’s dream job. He grew up in Cut Off, a small town in southern Lafourche Parish, and played at South Lafourche High, where the Trojans won the 1977 Class AAAA state championship (Louisiana’s highest classification at that time). One of Orgeron’s high school teammates was Bobby Hebert, who went on to play quarterback for the Saints and Falcons. Orgeron briefly attended LSU, but transferred to Nicholls State in Thibodaux and played football there.

Orgeron was hired in 2015 by Miles as defensive line coach. “Coach O” is known as a fantastic recruiter, and he was elevated by LSU athletic director Joe Alleva to help keep recruits from wavering in their commitment to the Bayou Bengals.

If Orgeron helps LSU win its next eight games, he could very well stay on permanently. Alleva will only consider people with previous college head coaching experience, and even though Orgeron’s career record is 16-27, he qualifies.

Miles’ firing is the earliest in LSU’s history. Now what if a previous athletic director had the guts to pull the trigger on another LSU coach after a stupefying loss at Auburn? I’ll discuss in another post.

As for me, it’s volleyball in Hays for the second time in three days. Norton lost to TMP and Plainville Tuesday. Today is no easier, since the Bluejays play three larger schools: Salina South, Hays and Abilene. I’m going back to Norton Monday, because it’s the last home matches this season, which means it’s senior night for Caitlyn. She’d never forgive me if I missed it.

This week is the first time I haven’t had an appointment with Crista since the week of July 18. I had been going weekly since the last week of July, but she wanted to try to go back to every two weeks, which was the schedule until the change. I was feeling a little bit anxious Tuesday in TMP’s fieldhouse before the matches. I was about to call her and leave a message saying it was a huge mistake to cancel. Lucky for me, I snapped out of it and didn’t need to call.

I can’t believe it will be October Saturday, but time flies sometimes.

Football-free Tuesday

Sorry for the long delay with a new post. No excuse given I spent almost all of my time at home between the trip to Norton Thursday and right now.

I got home very late from Norton last Thursday. The matches went long, I went to eat with Peggy and Clark afterward, and then I had to fight rain between Norton and Hill City. By time I got home, it was 11:35, the latest I have been awake since I acquired my CPAP machine in early August.

I need a break from football. I estimate I watched 24 hours worth between Saturday and Sunday. I did not watch any of the Eagles-Bears game last night. It wasn’t much of a game, anyway, so I missed nothing.

The Cardinals beat up on the Buccaneers 40-7 Sunday, but Bruce Arians wasn’t pleased with his offense. I doubt much pleases Arians, but it’s how he keeps his players motivated. Bill Belichick is the same way. Besides, Arizona needs every motivation to stay focused after the way it choked the game vs. New England.

Arizona travels to Buffalo Sunday. The Cardinals have played in western New York only five times since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The first time the Cards played there, it was in 1971 at the old War Memorial Stadium. St. Louis won 28-23, but the Cards haven’t won in Buffalo since, losing at what is now New Era Stadium (formerly Rich Stadium and Ralph Wilson Stadium) in 1986, 1990 and 2004. If the Bills can’t defeat the Cards, Rex Ryan may be a dead man walking. Buffalo would be 0-3 before heading to Foxborough to play the Patriots, who would be heavily favored even without Garoppolo.

Speaking of the Patriots, they will have to go this week without Jimmy Garoppolo, barring some miracle cure. This leaves Belichick starting his third-string quaterback, Jacoby Brissett, who was starting last season for North Carolina State, the same school where Russell Wilson played the first three years of his collegiate career before finishing at Wisconsin.

New England hosts Houston Thursday. The Texans haven’t showed much offense, but their defense has been very good in defeating Chicago and Kansas City. It may be the first team to score a touchdown wins.

I’m going to watch volleyball this afternoon. I’m traveling to Phillipsburg, where I haven’t been in over 17 months. Norton is playing Phillipsburg and Stockton starting at 5. I would skip if the Bluejays were playing again this week, but since they aren’t, might as well go. My work is done, and it’s a nice day, too nice to be staying inside the whole day, even though it is brutally hot. Hopefully that cold front they’re forecasting comes in as scheduled Sunday.

Brenda LeBlanc’s birthday was last Friday. I sent her a birthday card, but haven’t heard from her. Oh well. I tried. At least I still have Peggy and Cailtyn.

 

One score and 13 years ago…

The 97th season of the National Football League kicks off tonight when Denver hosts Carolina in a rematch of Super Bowl 50.

I began following the NFL in 1983. That season kicked off a month before my seventh birthday. The Washington REDSKINS were the dominant team at that time, having won Super Bowl XVII following the strike-shortened 1982 season, and setting a then-NFL record by scoring 541 points in 1983 behind Joe Theismann and John Riggins, who set the NFL record with 24 touchdowns, since bettered by Emmit Smith in 1995 and LaDanian Tomlinson in 2006.

The 1983 season also saw the Saints, my hometown team at the time, make their biggest push for the playoffs in franchise history up until that point. New Orleans could have made the postseason if it defeated the Los Angeles Rams in the Louisiana Superdome in the final week of the regular season, but lost 26-24 on a last-second field goal by Mike Lansford. The Rams won that game despite not scoring an offensive touchdown, returning two Kenny Stabler interceptions for TDs, returning a punt for another TD, and adding a safety when Hall of Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood sacked Stabler, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last month.

New Orleans embarrassed itself on national television, too. In their first Monday Night Football game in three years, the Saints led the Jets 28-14 going into the fourth quarter, only to watch in horror as New York scored 17 unanswered points in the final period. The crusher was a 76-yard punt return TD by Kirk Springs to complete the comeback as the Jets escaped, 31-28.

The Raiders, playing their second season in Los Angeles, won Super Bowl XVIII by routing the Redskins 38-9. The Silver and Black avenged a 37-35 loss at Washington in week five, and that was after the Raiders defeated the Seahawks in the AFC championship game. Strangely enough, Seattle won both regular season games.

The Raiders went 12-4 during the ’83 regular season. The team responsible for the fourth loss? The St. Louis FOOTBALL Cardinals. That’s right. A team which ended the year 8-7-1, having to win four of its final five to nose above .500. A team which played what was called the worst Monday Night Football game EVER, a 20-20 tie against the Giants in late October, a game in which Neil O’Donoghue missed THREE field goals in overtime, including a 19-yard chip shot. YEESH.

The more amazing thing about the Cardinals-Raiders game of 1983–only the second between the clubs all-time–was L.A. led 17-0 early in the second quarter, only to get steamrolled the rest of the way as St. Louis went on to a 34-24 triumph, easily one of the best games the Cardinals played during their 28 seasons (1960-87) in the Gateway City. The loss may have stoked the Raiders’ anger, because their last four games–the regular season finale vs. the Chargers, then three playoff games vs. Pittsburgh, Seattle and Washington–were all blowouts.

The Cardinals were in the chase for the NFC East championship in 1984, only to lose the finale at Washington 29-27 when O’Donoghue missed a long field goal. Three years later, St. Louis had a chance to make the playoffs, but again, it lost the final game of the regular season, this time 21-16 at Dallas. Three months later, the Cardinals officially moved to Arizona.

The ’83 Cardinals also beat the Seahawks, but lost 38-14 at Kansas City, which finished last in the AFC West. Had St. Louis been able to win that game, it would have made the playoffs at 9-6-1. Losing by wide margins twice each to the Cowboys and Redskins didn’t help.

This season, Arizona is attempting something the Cardinals franchise has never achieved–four consecutive winning seasons. In fact, the Cardinals have a chance for four consecutive 10-win seasons. WOW. Remember, this is a franchise which has lost over 700 games since the NFL began in 1920.

I can truly consider the 1983 NFL season the beginning of my obsession with sports. By the end of ’83, I was watching all four major sports leagues and college football.