Last week before the Green Bay Packers played the Washington Redskins in a NFC Wild Card Game at FedEx Field, I wrote about the postseason history between the two teams.
In that piece, I mentioned that both Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi eventually became the head coach for the Redskins after leaving Green Bay. In Lambeau’s case, it was after a stop with the then Chicago Cardinals.
I wrote about that scenario about three weeks ago.
This week, I’m going to do a piece about the postseason history between the Packers and Cardinals, as the Packers prepare to play the now Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
On Thursday, I wrote a story about NFL scout Chris Landry’s take on this NFC Divisional Game.
The Packers and Cardinals go way back. The Cardinals joined the American Professional Football Association in 1920 when they were based in Chicago. The APFA became the NFL in 1922.
The Packers joined that same league in 1921.
It’s sort of odd that the two teams have only played each other 71 times in the 90-plus years both teams have been in the NFL. The Packers hold the edge in the series with 44-23-4 mark.
The two teams have also only met twice in the postseason. The first time happened after the 1982 season, when the Cardinals were then based in St. Louis.
The 1982 season was a strike year in the NFL, as only nine league games were played. The Packers finished 5-3-1, while the Cardinals were 5-4. For the playoffs, the NFL decided to do a special 16-team playoff tournament, with eight teams from each conference in the tourney.
The Packers hosted the Cardinals in a NFC First-Round Playoff Game at Lambeau Field on January 8, 1983. The game was the first postseason game played at the storied stadium since the legendary “Ice Bowl”, which was played on December 31, 1967.
The attendance for the game was 54,282.
The Cards struck first as Neil O’Donoghue kicked an 18-yard field goal. After that, it was all Packers.
The Pack scored four straight touchdowns to take a 28-3 lead. The first two scores came on a couple of Lynn Dickey touchdown tosses, one to John Jefferson (60 yards) and one to James Lofton (20 yards).
Eddie Lee Ivory then ran for a touchdown from two yards out and then caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Dickey. Kicker Jan Stenerud was perfect on all the extra points.
The Cardinals came back to score on a five-yard touchdown pass from Neil Lomax to Pat Tilley to make it 28-9, as the Cards missed the extra point.
Stenerud connected on a 46-yard field goal, before Dickey connected with Jefferson again on a seven-yard touchdown pass. Stenerud then hit a 34-yard field goal to end the Green Bay scoring for the day.
The Cards got a final touchdown late in the game on another Lomax touchdown pass, this time to Mike Shumann from 18 yards out.
The final score of the game was 41-16. Dickey threw four touchdown passes without throwing a pick for 260 yards. His passer rating in the game was a whopping 150.4, as he completed 17-of-23 passes.
The defense of the Packers forced four turnovers and had five sacks in the game.
The next time the Packers and Cardinals met in the postseason was after the 2009 season, when the Cardinals were and still are based in Arizona.
The NFC Wild Card Game was played on January 10, 2010. The game turned out to be one of the most exciting and thrilling games in NFL postseason history.
The game matched two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL against each other. It would be Kurt Warner of the Cardinals going up against Aaron Rodgers of the Packers.
Ironically, Warner got his first opportunity in the NFL with the Packers in 1994, as he was signed as an undrafted rookie. But Warner didn’t last long in camp, not with Brett Favre, Mark Brunell and Ty Detmer ahead of him on the depth chart.
But by 2009, Warner had already become a two-time NFL MVP, been first-team All-Pro twice, been on four Pro Bowl teams, had played in three Super Bowls and had won Super Bowl XXXIV, plus was MVP of that game.
Warner had led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl the previous season as a matter of fact, but Arizona lost in heartbreaking fashion 27-23 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on a late Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass.
In 2009, Rodgers was just in his second year as starting quarterback of the Packers. No. 12 made the Pro Bowl squad and led the Packers to an 11-5 record, which made the team the No. 5 seed in the playoffs as a wild card.
The Cardinals were the No. 4 seed in the NFC with a 10-6 record, which was good enough to win the NFC West.
The Packers and Cardinals had played each other in Week 17 of the 2009 season, when the Packers won convincingly 33-7. However, Arizona rested a number of their starters, as they had already clinched the NFC West.
The second postseason game between the Cardinals and the Packers started out very badly for the team from Green Bay.
The Cardinals raced out to a 17-0 lead, as Arizona took advantage of an interception by Rodgers and scored on a one-yard touchdown run by Tim Hightower. The Cards followed that up with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Warner to Early Doucet and then Neil Rackers hit a 23-yard field goal.
Rodgers got the Packers on the board with a one-yard quarterback sneak to make it 17-7. But Warner immediately answered with another 15-yard touchdown toss to Doucet.
The Packers got on the board again before halftime with a 20-yard Mason Crosby field goal to make the score 24-10.
But Warner and the Cardinals stayed hot early in the third quarter, as Warner hit Larry Fitzgerald with a 33-yard touchdown pass to make the score 31-10.
But Rodgers and the Packers would not give up. No. 12 threw two touchdown passes, one to Greg Jennings from six yards out and one to Jordy Nelson from 11 yards out. Those touchdown tosses pulled the Packers within a touchdown of the Cards.
But once again, Warner had an answer. He hit Fitzgerald for another touchdown pass, this one from 11 yards out.
Then it was time for Rodgers to respond. First he hit James Jones with a 30-yard touchdown pass. Then he led a drive which culminated with a one-yard touchdown run by John Kuhn.
The score was now 38-38.
Warner remained unflappable, as he hit Steve Breaston with 17 yard touchdown pass.
But Rodgers responded immediately, as he hit Spencer Havner with an 11-yard touchdown pass. That made the score 45-45 and the game was heading to overtime.
On the Packers first possession of overtime, Rodgers narrowly missed Jennings on a deep post pass which would have won the game for Green Bay. And then on a very controversial play, Rodgers fumbled, and Karlos Dansby of the Cardinals returned it 17 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
On the play, Rodgers is clearly hit in the helmet and also grabbed by the facemask. But a penalty was not called and the Cardinals won 51-45.
When it was all said and done, Warner had thrown for 379 yards and five touchdowns, while Rodgers had thrown for 423 yards and four touchdowns.
The game was truly a classic.
So, what will Rodgers do this Saturday night against the Cardinals? Well, if history is a blueprint for the future, Rodgers will toss four touchdown passes. Just like he did in the 2009 playoff game and like Dickey did in the 1982 playoff game.
We shall see what indeed happens in the upcoming game. All I know is that the Packers have averaged 43 points a game in the two postseason games that they have played against the Cardinals.
I know Packer Nation would be very happy if Green Bay comes close to that amount on Saturday night.