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Stanton Shuffle Inside
Folktales: The Stanton Shuffle
In one of the Cardinals' biggest wins in Seattle, a backup QB went viral
By Darren Urban Oct 18, 2022

The second season of Folktales continues this week, with "Stanton Shuffle" premiering on the Arizona Cardinals YouTube channel Wednesday at 7 p.m.

That Drew Stanton was caught on camera was happenstance, the confluence of events of a play right by the Cardinals sideline, a network focusing on Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, and Stanton's own runaway feelings in the moment.

The game itself was crucial, a 2015 road trip to Seattle that sealed the idea that was the season the NFC West belonged to the Cardinals, and the play that iced it was a memorable 48-yard touchdown run by Andre Ellington.

But what lasts from that game, and that play, was the Cardinals backup quarterback, pumping his arms and giving a kick in a celebration that still lives on in gif form some seven years later.

"My emotions got the best of me," Stanton admits.

The Cardinals were in the middle of their most successful season under coach Bruce Arians. The Seahawks were the reigning NFC champions. The game was on "Sunday Night Football," assuring not only an extra camera that would catch Stanton's celebration, but also a huge national audience that would consume Stanton's happiness pretty much before most of the team knew it even happened.

"In an era where everything is viral and it takes off, it gets shared and it gets posted," said Cardinals senior vice president of media relations Mark Dalton, who stood on the sideline just a few yards from Stanton that night. "It was genuine, and it was a raw emotion.

"I think all of us in our lives at some point, I hope we have a moment that inspires such passion and exuberance and enthusiasm."

Said starting quarterback Carson Palmer that night, "that was just all heart."

When Stanton arrived in Arizona in 2013, he was one of the first free agents signed by the new GM/coach tandem of Steve Keim and Arians. Stanton had been with Arians in Indianapolis, and he signed with the idea he'd finally get his chance to be a starter in the NFL.

That lasted about six weeks, before the Cardinals traded for Palmer.

Stanton had another brief window of opportunity in 2014. Palmer suffered an ACL tear, and the Cardinals had arguably their strongest team in the Arians era. But then Stanton himself suffered what turned out to be a season-ending leg injury and the season fizzled from there.

Stanton only started 13 games in four seasons in Arizona, but won nine of them.

"(Backup QB) requires a certain personality, a certain nuance, a certain football IQ but also an emotional IQ," Dalton said. "Drew had the perfect demeanor for it."

Palmer had his best season as a pro in 2015, as the Cardinals took their "All or Nothing" season to a 13-3 record and a trip to the NFC Championship game. Stanton took the role he was left.

"I knew I was not going to have many opportunities," Stanton said. "I wanted to try and fit and find a way to make the most of it."

The Cardinals were leading the division and a win in Seattle would give them a chance to put major distance between them and the Seahawks. That path wasn't helped when starting guard Mike Iupati got hurt on a play early in the second quarter because of a scary collision with Chancellor, leading to a long delay while an ambulance came on the field to take him to the hospital.

"Initially, I was just upset for Mike," said Earl Watford, who came in to replace Iupati. "You hate to see something like that. Luckily he was fine and all smiles later. Secondly, I thought, 'Holy (expletive), let me come correct when hitting Kam,' because I know it's coming sooner than later.

"I was prepared to come in and play even though I had a different role for that game which wasn't utilized at the time. I was in the dumps honestly because I wasn't on the field much leading up to that moment and just waiting patiently until my number was called."

Watford slid in without a problem. Palmer was playing magnificently, and the Cardinals raced to a 19-0 lead, and 22-7 at the half.

But the Seahawks, and their buzzing, intense, loud home crowd, didn't go away. And in a span of 1:44 early in the fourth quarter, a Marshawn Lynch TD run and a Bobby Wagner touchdown after returning a Palmer fumble suddenly gave the Seahawks the lead.

"You relish that opportunity to go up there and be in that type of atmosphere and come away victorious," Stanton said.

Palmer calmly led the Cardinals on their own TD drive, culminating on a Jermaine Gresham TD catch to retake the lead. The Seahawks were forced to punt, and the Cardinals got the ball back, up three, with six minutes to go.

Stanton's moment awaited.

Seattle called timeout with 2:07 left, the Cardinals facing a third-and-4 at the Seahawks 48-yard line. The Cardinals called 43 Sprint Draw. Palmer in shotgun, third-down back Ellington beside him.

"We weren't going to put the ball up on the air in that situation," former coach Bruce Arians said. "It was executed to absolute perfection."

Ellington took the delayed handoff, slipped past the line of scrimmage and then looped around Chancellor and tightroped down the left sideline – and at that moment, Stanton couldn't help but be moved. He swung his arms, pumped his fists, and then delivered a kick for the ages.

"I think I blacked out," Stanton said. "We had the perfect playcall on so I'm jumping up and down on the sideline … again, I blacked out.

"All of a sudden Andre goes running by and Kam falls down and so I'm like, 'Yes, we won.' My emotions got the best of me there."

That was it. Or it should have been. The story was the Cardinals' big win – except for the cameraman who was supposed to isolate on Chancellor on the play and found himself zeroing in on the backup quarterback with the funky dance moves.

The game, nationally televised on NBC in an era of gifs and memes, had delivered a big one.

"You leave the field, you do all the postgame interviews on the field, and now you're in the locker room and I think that's when people started looking at their phones," Dalton said.

Dalton was the one to break the news to Stanton and Palmer. He made sure to tell the quarterbacks and bring up the clip on his phone. Because of the high-profile nature of the game, Stanton's moment had already gone viral.

"I was like, 'No way,' " Stanton said. "So now you know the rest of the story."

"It made me feel good, like I was part of it," Stanton added. "This game is supposed to be fun, the emotions are supposed to be part of it, because that allows us to be who we are. It shows the personality behind it – and that was just probably a little bit more than I would have done in a normal setting."

It was, Arians said, a "SportsCenter moment."

"That was one of the greatest celebrations," Arians said. "We all lose it sometimes. I think Drew's kids are going to get a great laugh out of it their entire life."

It still elicits a smile from teammates. Markus Golden, then a rookie on the Cardinals, said it would be impossible to have forgotten both that game and that dance.

Watford said he loved Stanton as a teammate, a player whose toughness was unquestioned.

"The hype man," Watford said. "It's tough to be on the sidelines not playing. He made the most of it and helped guys enjoy it. Love him for that."

Indeed, Stanton's career never quite was what he hoped in terms of playing time, but he was the perfect backup for Palmer during the duo's years with the Cardinals. Stanton also earned a Super Bowl ring when Arians brought him into the Buccaneers' Super Bowl run in 2020.

The Stanton Shuffle will forever be atop his legacy, however.

Stanton has embraced it even today. Twitter was flooded with celebration tweets and gifs after the Cardinals' miracle comeback win in Las Vegas earlier this season. Stanton too sent out a tweet – no words, just the well-known gif of his Seattle sideline dance from all those years ago.

"Every once in a while I'll get on (Twitter) and check it, and yes, after a Cardinals win, you'll see the meme of me," Stanton said. "It's pretty neat to be able to be a part of Cardinals' history."

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