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Excitement Revisited: The Top Cardinals' Games To Watch Again

Looking for something to do? Here's a ready list to use on (free) Game Pass 

(Clockwise from top left) Kurt Warner throws a pass against the Packers in the 2009 playoffs; Larry Fitzgerald runs after a catch in overtime against the Packers in the 2015 playoffs; John Brown hauls in a 75-yard touchdown against the Eagles in 2014; Drew Stanton dances after an Andre Ellington touchdown in Seattle in 2015.
(Clockwise from top left) Kurt Warner throws a pass against the Packers in the 2009 playoffs; Larry Fitzgerald runs after a catch in overtime against the Packers in the 2015 playoffs; John Brown hauls in a 75-yard touchdown against the Eagles in 2014; Drew Stanton dances after an Andre Ellington touchdown in Seattle in 2015.

As the world negotiates the coronavirus – and as everyone waits for football to return – it doesn't mean football has to be absent.

The NFL, once people began sheltering at home, made sure you could get your fix if you wanted by offering up its Game Pass product for free through the end of May. In there you can watch any game you want going back to the 2009 season, as well as other NFL Films productions.

What would be the best games to watch? Well, I'm glad you asked. Because Game Pass only goes back a little more than a decade, the Cardinals' dream Super Bowl season isn't on the list. So, given that there have been 11 seasons in that time, here's a list of the top 11 games to get all nostalgic with – at least how I see it – and also a slightly different list that has some analytics behind it.

  • Kurt Warner Can't Miss: 2009 Wild Card Playoff OT 51-45 win vs. Packers – Warner, in his last game in his home stadium, throws five touchdown passes but only has four incomplete passes, while Michael Adams and Karlos Dansby team up for the forced fumble/TD runback to win the game.
  • Hail Larry Catch And Run: 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff OT 26-20 win vs. Packers – Sure, Aaron Rodgers had a true Hail Mary TD to send it to extra time, but Larry Fitzgerald weaved his magic on the game-winning drive.
  • Smoke 'Em: 2014 Week 8 24-20 win vs. Eagles – John "Smoke" Brown hauls in a 75-yard touchdown late for a lead, and then the Cardinals' defense makes a red-zone stop to finish it out.
  • Wave Him Home Drew Stanton: 2015 Week 10 39-34 win at Seahawks – The Cardinals' backup QB creates his own meme celebrating Andre Ellington's game-sealing TD scamper.
  • Can't Stop Fitz 'N Q: 2009 Week 13 30-17 win vs. Vikings – The Cardinals' dynamic duo of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin dominate while Adrian Peterson is held to 19 yards rushing.
  • Peko Pops Off: 2015 Week 11 34-31 win vs Bengals – Thrilling game comes down to a 60-second game-winning field-goal drive – and a one of the oddest end-game unsportsmanlike penalties you'll ever see.
  • Bruce Arians' "My House" Farewell: 2017 Week 17 26-24 win at Seahawks – A broken-down Cardinals team still gives the soon-to-retire Arians yet another win in Seattle.
  • Kenyan Drake's Best He Ever Had: 2019 Week 15 38-24 win vs. Browns – Kliff Kingsbury's offense is in peak form, Kyler Murray outplays Baker Mayfield, and Drake erupts for a career-high four touchdowns.
  • Warner Slices Up Da Bears: 2009 Week 8 41-21 win at Bears – Even without an injured Anquan Boldin, Warner throws five TD passes.
  • Welcome To The NFL, P2: 2011 Week 1 28-21 win vs. Panthers – Cam Newton makes his NFL debut and throws for more than 400 yards, but Patrick Peterson gets the game-winning touchdown on a punt return on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.
  • B.A. Doesn't Need Any Luck: 2013 Week 12 40-11 win vs Colts – In his first year, Arians has his team hitting on all cylinders by the time the team he coached in 2012 comes to town.

Analytics-wise, there is a company called Thuuz that came up with real-time game excitement ratings from three perspectives: the neutral fan, the home team fan and the visiting team fan. They've only gone back to games since 2012, but on the scale of 0-to-100 (taking into consideration game pace, team parity, play novelty, momentum shifts, social buzz, and historical context), there have been five Cardinals' wins in that time that ended with a 100 rating on the neutral fan perspective.

One was the Green Bay playoff win in the 2015 season, as well as the Bengals win in 2015. The other three "100-rated" games not previously mentioned (but also Game Pass fodder):

  • 60 Seconds Is Enough: 2016 Week 16 34-31 win at Seahawks – The underachieving Cardinals don't have the kind of year they had hoped, but in a tie game with one minute left, Carson Palmer directs a game-winning field-goal drive.
  • Antoine Cason Is Picky: 2013 Week 15 OT 37-34 win at Titans – CB Antoine Cason has a pick-6 that should have sealed a win, but after a Ryan Fitzpatrick-led comeback forces overtime, Cason gets another interception in the freezing temperatures to set up a win.
  • Dwight Freeney Spins Then Strips: 2015 Week 14 23-20 win vs. Vikings – Veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney makes Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater pay for holding the ball too long when Minnesota was in field-goal range at the end of the game.

Also, here is a bonus game from 2008 -- the NFC Championship:

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