The Philadelphia Eagles come into face the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC Championship game - both teams were not expected to be at this point, and the Eagles needed 17th week magic to even make the playoffs. Eagles were the lower ranked team, but many sports writers considered the Cardinals to be the underdog in this game. Cardinals have Anquan Boldin back in the line up for this game, but they were still planning on having Larry Fitzgerald as their primary target.
First half was absolutely all Cardinals, on both sides of the ball. Kurt Warner looked brilliant in the pocket, and had all kinds of time to throw. Edgerrin James had some solid running to loosen up the Eagles defense, and Warner spread the ball around starting from their first possession. The Cards opening drive touchdown was the first TD they gave up in the first quarter of a game since week 10 against the Giants. Cards defense was swarming the Eagles receivers, and getting to Donovan McNabb quickly off the hike. It was just complete dominance for the first half, with three TD passes to Fitzgerald, including a sweet-ass flea flicker play. McNabb looked really shaky dealing with the Cardinals in his face, throwing behind and below his receivers. Even when the Eagles had developing drives, they had to settle for punting for field goal attempts, rather than touchdowns. McNabb's go-to guy in the first half was his tight end, Brent Celek, even though it is usually his all-purpose running back, Brian Westbrook.
Going into the second half, the Eagles were down 6-24, and it looked like it would be another slaughter for the Cardinals. On the Eagles first drive Donovan McNabb coughs up the ball after several nice passes, and it started to feel like the game would be out of reach. Eagles blitzing started to mean something, and every time Warner dropped back to pass, he had less than 2 seconds to make his decision, which typically meant an inaccurate pass. When the Eagles got the ball back on their second possession, McNabb aired it out for a 50 yard gain to Kevin Curtis which lead to a red zone TD off a slant play to Celek. On their next possession, the Eagles spread the ball to Curtis and DeSean Jackson (who had been relatively quiet until now), and end with another red zone TD to Celek off an outside-inside route.
It went to 24-19 with the Cardinals still having the edge going into the 4th quarter, but definitely losing their momentum. McNabb drops an absolute bomb down to Jackson for a 62-yard TD pass, after bobbling the ball under single coverage. Eagles score 19 unanswered points in less than 9 minutes, to take their first lead of the game for 25-24. If football was scored like boxing, the Cards would have had the first half, but the Eagles would definitely have the second half - Eagles offense was moving swiftly at their will. Cards struggling to get their offense going, so they are forced with a 4th and inches in the middle of the field. Tim Hightower gets the call after two unsuccessful attempts at getting the first down, and ends up getting the edge for a 6 yard first down. That 4th down pick up was the big turning point in the game, as the Cards continued down the field with two consecutive passes to Fitzgerald, to setup an 8-yard screen play TD pass to Hightower.
Larry Fitzgerald surpasses Jerry Rice's record of 409 postseason yards in a single season, ending this game with 152 yards, and going into the Super Bowl with 419 passing yards. It was looking a little bleak for the Cards as the Eagles started to dominate the second half, but Kurt Warner and Fitzgerald willed the victory. The Cards defense had to hold the Eagles back on their final drive under two minutes to go, but it pretty much felt like it was in the bag after the screen play to Hightower. Now the Cards travel to Tampa Bay and await their next opponent, being either the Steelers or the Ravens. Cardinals will be able to win their first title in 61 years, which is the second longest drought in professional sports.