Score: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23
Date: Feb. 1, 2009 Site: Raymond James Stadium
We have a winner and, in fitting fashion, it ran away from the pack.
The voters picked Larry Fitzgerald's 64-yard touchdown reception from Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XLIII as the Arizona Cardinals' most memorable play, and I applaud their selection. Fitzgerald's sprint down the middle of the field to the end zone is the play I consider the most memorable.
There were definitely other plays that may have been more impactful toward a win, but Fitzgerald's fourth-quarter touchdown catch was significant to the Cardinals' franchise as well as the long-suffering fan base. It deserved to be voted as the team's most memorable play for a combination of reasons.
First, it's certainly the most exciting play in team history.
Super Bowl. Fourth quarter. Go-ahead touchdown. Less than three minutes left. It was the stuff legends, dreams and fairy tales are made of. Even though Arizona lost the game on another breathtaking play, Fitzgerald's run to glory -- his second touchdown of the game -- was picturesque. And for 2:05, it was going down in Cardinals, NFL and Super Bowl lore. Which leads us to the second reason it deserved to be named the Cards' most memorable play: It gave Arizona's fans a Super Bowl moment.
Every Super Bowl team has one. There's one play -- offensive, defensive, special teams, it doesn't matter -- that will be seared in the memory of that team's fans for life. For Cardinals fans, it's Fitzgerald's touchdown. All Cardinals fans remember where they were when Fitz caught the pass from Warner, how they slid to the edge of their seats as Fitz broke through the secondary and how they hit the ceiling with exhilaration as Fitzgerald's legs swallowed yards en route to pay dirt. Even though Arizona lost the Super Bowl less than three minutes later, Cards fans will forever eternalize that play.
And thirdly, Fitzgerald's catch deserved to be Arizona's most memorable play because of what it meant for the franchise.
For years -- even generations -- the Cardinals have been synonymous with losing. They've been mired in mediocrity. But when the Cards made their incredible run to the Super Bowl, all that was forgotten -- at least temporarily. And when Fitzgerald sprinted for that go-ahead touchdown, it looked like Arizona would join the echelon of Super Bowl champs. But being that close cast the team in a new light around the NFL. The Cardinals weren't just a team that lucked out and got to the Super Bowl, as other teams have been labeled in the past. They made a legitimate run at the Vince Lombardi Trophy, one that was highlighted by Fitzgerald's touchdown.