Cardinals' top plays: Hope via Hightower

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in team history. In the previous two days we featured Kurt Warner's 64-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald during a loss in Super Bowl XLIII and Karlos Dansby's fumble return for a touchdown in overtime of a wild-card game against Green Bay in the 2009 season. Please vote for your choice as the Cardinals' most memorable play.

Score: Cardinals 32, Eagles 25

Date: Jan. 18, 2009 Site: University of Phoenix Stadium

Sometimes a memorable play doesn't include a touchdown, sack or interception. Sometimes it's one of those plays that lets fans breathe for a second, move away from the edge of their seat and know their team lived to see another down.

When Tim Hightower took a handoff from Kurt Warner on fourth-and-1 on the Philadelphia 49 with 7 minutes, 57 seconds left in the NFC Championship Game of the 2008 season, there wasn't a back flush against a seat.

Everyone knew if the Eagles regained possession they could milk the clock, making it incredibly tough for the Cardinals to reach their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Everyone knew there could be bigger plays, but at that moment this was the play that could define the season. When Hightower ran right and was pushed out of bounds after gaining 6 yards -- and one of the most important first downs in franchise history -- everyone exhaled. There were still 43 yards to go to overtake the Eagles, but at least there was hope.

That drive wasn't over. There was still a third down to be converted. But that fourth-down run by Hightower kept the hopes and dreams of an entire organization alive, and it eventually paid off when Arizona overtook the Eagles with a touchdown pass from Warner to Hightower with just under three minutes left. That pass was memorable as well, but it wouldn't have been possible without Hightower getting those 6 yards.