Coach Ken Whisenhunt visits with fans waiting in line to buy NFC Championship tickets at the Cards' Tempe facility Sunday.
The Cardinals' improbable postseason received another favorable twist Sunday.
The NFC's No. 6 playoff seed, the Philadelphia Eagles, upset the top-seeded New York Giants, 23-11, Sunday, meaning the No. 4-seeded Cards – who have never been this deep in the playoffs – will host the NFC Championship game Jan. 18 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The winner will go to the Super Bowl, and the Cards will have the advantage of playing in the building where they have posted a 13-4 record since coach Ken Whisenhunt arrived.
Tickets for the game sold out within six minutes.
The Eagles advancing with two road wins was the only playoff scenario where the Cards could be home for the NFC title game. Yet it came true.
Whisenhunt said he had taken a lap around University of Phoenix Stadium after his team beat Atlanta in the Wild Card round slapping hands with the fans because he wasn't sure if he would be able to do it again.
Now, Whisenhunt might have that chance.
"I did my victory lap around the stadium because I thought it might have been the last chance for me to show my appreciation to our fans," Whisenhunt said. "As we all know now that was incorrect and I've never been happier to be wrong. With the Philadelphia victory, we have this opportunity to host the NFC Championship against the Eagles.
"I know it is going to be a great atmosphere and it is going to be electric. The home field advantage is huge for us because we don't have to travel. Knowing the environment and knowing the way our fans have supported us gives us such an advantage and that is exactly what we want. We couldn't ask for anything better."
Thousands of fans showed up to the University of Phoenix Stadium and the team's Tempe facility in hopes of buying tickets, which were quickly scarce. Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves both went outside to visit with some of the fans waiting in line.
The Cardinals played the Eagles on Thanksgiving night, a forgettable game for an Arizona team playing on short rest and having to travel cross country. In that game, the Eagles built a 24-7 halftime lead and coasted to a 48-20 victory.
"That feels like it was years ago," Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said after the Giants game. "You'll have two teams putting it all on the line."
The Cards came home to clinch the NFC West title a week later by beating the Rams.
This time, the Eagles will have to be the ones who travel.
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 1/11/09.