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Monday, January 19, 2009
Mailbag: Cardinals fans relish the moment

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Andrew from Manchester, Conn., writes: Hey Mike, What a game! Amazing first half of play by the Cardinals. Second half was up and down, but that drive by us in the 4th quarter proved once and for all that we are not the same old Cardinals. It was unbelievable to watch this team drive down the field on that defense.

Once we clinched the win, I was speechless and did not know how to react. I stood watching the TV with the biggest smile I ever had and tears of joy coming down my face. This game and in particularly that drive are things that I have only been able to dream of before, but now thanks to Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Ken Whisenhunt, and the rest of this extremely motivated and determined team it can be more than just a dream....its reality. Here we come Tampa!!!!

Mike Sando: I'm sitting here at Cardinals headquarters and have already heard team employees sharing the same sorts of emotions. At the risk of sounding sappy here, you can definitely be proud of this team. That final drive was indeed a defining one. Fourteen plays, 72 yards ... even a two-point conversion as an exclamation point. They couldn't have put a stronger exclamation point on the performance unless the defense would have scored on the final play.


Jeremy from parts unknown writes: Hey Mike. What a game! Could not be more proud to be a Cardinals fan than now. I take only one negative thing away from the game. I dont know if you caught this or not. I believe it occured in the fourth quarter when the Cards were down one. It looked as though Anquan Boldin and Haley got into it pretty good on the sideline. They were in each others' faces having what appeared to be a heated argument when Whisenhunt had to step in and say something that made them go their separate ways.

What do you make of this? Is this just as simple as a player and coach letting their emotions get the best of them in the biggest game of their careers? Or is it a sign of something bigger? Boldin has been an extremely productive and important part of this team for quite some time and I have never known him to be anything other then a team player. However, I sense that he has grown increasingly unhappy with his role on this team. I think its fair to say he feels largely over shadowed by Fitz who is quickly emerging as the best reciever in the league. Do you think this is a foreshadowing of things to come between Boldin and the Cardinals franchise or am I reading too much into this?

Mike Sando: The temptation is to put all of this on the player, but I do think Todd Haley was right in noting that his emotional nature plays a role in those things. The goal is to get the most from a player. Haley learned from Bill Parcells, who believed in harsh motivational tactics. I think these sorts of things are OK if the coach is under control. But if the coach is losing control of a situation, then I question whether that is the best way to go. We should learn more after speaking with Whisenhunt and others as the day progresses. I also think it's important we hear from Boldin before drawing conclusions. More on that later in the mailbag.


Matt from Ottawa writes: I am usually a Saints fan, but I read all the ESPN blogs pretty often. I just saw the NFC Championship game and watching the Cardinals win a spot in the Super Bowl was pretty unbelievable. I just got an email from NFL.com asking me to vote for coach of the year, and Ken Whisenhunt isn't on the list. That's pretty dumb. I'd be up in arms if I were you. Anyways, keep up the great work.

Mike Sando: Shhh. Don't tell anyone about this. The Cardinals might think no one is respecting them.


Julian from Frankfurt, Germany, writes: Hey Mike! So the Cardinals did really make it to the Super Bowl and I really think they deserved. They brought their A game for 3 weeks in a row, all the playmakers making plays when it counts and Warner to Fitzgerald is as close to unstoppable as it gets.

Fitz does not care about triple-coverage and you can't knock Kurt Warner out of the game, even though the Eagles tried everything including that cheap shot by Demps. The running game is getting it done. But also the coaches are red hot right now. They had a perfect game plan to begin the game with, calling the right plays at the right time.

It seems it's all coming together. Maybe I am just too excited about making it to the big one, but I think the Cards have the tools in place to win it all, but I am sure it will be a great Super Bowl to watch. Also, the Cards might be the worst team to ever get into the play-offs, but hey, they are a really good play-off team.

Mike Sando: Great way of putting it. The Cardinals are proving a team can flip a switch for the playoffs. Arizona basically cranked it up for the second half of its final regular-season game, and then took it to another level when the playoffs began. Warner showed tremendous toughness this season. The Cardinals' offensive style exposed him to quite a bit of punishment at times, but he never missed a start.

Most of the Cardinals' big stars -- Warner, Fitzgerald, Adrian Wilson -- played great games Sunday. That's so important in the playoffs.


Dirk from Germantown, Maryland, writes: Sando - love your blog, I have been reading it all year. I'm a huge cards fan since I grew up in Phoenix, been watching them since 88. What a feeling! It's hard to put into words. But I will say that it is a bit tempered by the tantrum thrown by Boldin, my favorite card since he burst into the league in week 1 back in 2003. Boldin for a long time was the only thing the Cards had going for them.

So to see and hear some of the stories about him yelling at Haley on the sidelines, and splitting immediately after the game is very troubling and puts a blemish on the historic win for our franchise. The guy supposedly didn't even celebrate with the team at all? What do you know of this and can it be reconciled before it becomes a huge distraction for the Super Bowl? We will need Boldin to win.

Mike Sando: In fairness to all, we need to hear Boldin's explanation before we convict him of insubordination or anything else. Beyond that, Boldin frankly isn't big enough to tarnish this experience for the Cardinals. This coaching staff has proven no individual is bigger than the team. Ask Edgerrin James. Boldin has a long record of professionalism in how he approaches his work. Let's hear from him before we make statements about his behavior tarnishing the moment.