While allowing the Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald (above) is “having the most significant postseason any nonquarterback has had in about 20 years”, Slate’s Charles Pierce unloads on the NFC Champions, dubbing Arizona’s playoff run, “fluky and disgraceful.” And he’s not even mentioning Will Leitch’s Tumblr page!
Arizona played in a landfill of a division. They won their two playoff games because Jake Delhomme of Carolina turned the ball over six times and because the Philadelphia Eagles all looked at the newspapers last Sunday and discovered they were in the NFC championship game again. The Cardinals are a glorified Arena Football League team with a soft defense and a running game unworthy of the name. They are in the position that they’re in because the NFL rigs its season worse than any carny rigs his wheel. For all the macho posturing of its principal propagandists, between the jiggering of the schedule and the conniving of the draft and the socialistic revenue schemes, and the desperate grab for any mechanism that will flatten out the differences between really good teams and really bad ones, the NFL is the league that comes closest to the biddy soccer league philosophy of making sure that everyone gets a trophy.
The only proof anyone should need came in the 15th game of the season, when Arizona visited New England. It already was clear this year that the Cardinals were even money to finish in the middle of the pack of any league that played in the upper latitudes, with the possible exception of the Ivies. Send them north out of the pleasure dome that the Bidwills blackjacked out of the state of Arizona, and the team did things like give up 56 points to the New York Jets, playing such shoddy defense that Brett Favre threw for six touchdowns. This, of course, ignited another outbreak of hot and steamy Favre love from the easily smitten television press corps, so we have the Cardinals to blame even for that. In Foxborough, however, in December, they simply quit.