Arizona Wins a Wild One
GLENDALE, Ariz. - Defense still wins championships, right?
Just barely, if the Arizona Cardinals' wild 51-45 wild-card shootout win vs. the Green Bay Packers is any indicator.
In the highest-scoring playoff game in NFL history, the Cardinals' Kurt Warner threw more touchdown passes (five) than incompletions (four) and combined with Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers for nine TDs and 801 passing yards Sunday. Warner's passer rating was a near-perfect 154.1.
The previous high for combined points in a postseason game was 95 in the Philadelphia Eagles' 58-37 win against the Detroit Lions on Dec. 30, 1995.
The Cardinals (11-6) advanced to Saturday's divisional vs. the NFC's top-seeded New Orleans Saints at the Superdome.
"It was almost like we'll just flip the coin and whoever wins the toss wins," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We don't even have to go out and play it. I'm glad we did."
A relieved Whisenhunt thought his defense would bail out his team after Neil Rackers missed a 34-yard field goal that would have won the game with nine seconds left in regulation.
"When we lost the toss, I thought our defense was going to make a play," the coach said.
That play came when nickel back Michael Adams stripped the ball from Rodgers on third-and-6 from the Green Bay 24, with linebacker Karlos Dansby returning it 17 yards for the winning TD after it bounced off Rodgers' foot.
"Destiny smiled on us this time," Whisenhunt said. "That's probably one of the best games ever played in the playoffs."
The Packers (11-6) battled back from deficits of 17-0 in the first quarter and 31-10 early in the third. Rodgers was 28-for-42 for 422 yards, four touchdowns and a 121.3 rating.
"Whew! Anybody else tired?" said Warner, who completed 29 of 33 passes for 379 yards. "What a great football game. These are fun ones when you win."
Warner, a 12-year veteran, said he would decide on whether to retire once the season ends.
"Right now, it's about another playoff game," he said. "It's about New Orleans, then we'll go from there."