With any offseason comes season reviews and plenty of top five lists to feed your brain with Cardinals' related topics. Today's no different as we begin the first of a handful of top five lists starting with the top surprises of the Arizona Cardinals 2009 season. The definition for surprise:
to strike or occur to with a sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment, as through unexpectedness
So based on that, here are my top five surprising moments of the Cardinals 2009 season:
5. The Cardinals win ten games - Although winning ten games comes easy to some teams, the Cardinals have never experienced a double digit win season since being in Arizona. You can see why something like this would be so surprising to fans. Even the Super Bowl bound 2008 Cardinals were only able to win nine games. The Cardinals of 2009 crossed a threshold that hadn't been passed since 1976, which is the last time they won ten games. Since Ken Whisenhunt has taken over for the Cardinals three years ago, he's increased his win total - should we see an 11 win season next year?
4. The Cardinals upset the Vikings on Sunday night - One of the Cardinals ten wins came at the hands of the Minnesota Brett Favre's, in a prime time showing. The Vikings entered the game as the heavy favorites, and many Viking fans figured they'd walk over the Cardinals. Instead, the defense stifled Favre and his young receivers, while morphing into a wall of solid foundation against Adrian Peterson. On the opposite side of the ball, Kurt Warner and his dynamic set of wide outs capitalized on a bewildered Vikings defense. To much of the nation's surprise, the Cardinals dominated the Vikings from start to finish, 30-17.
3. Beanie Wells runs wild - Soon after the first round of last year's draft came to a close, Cardinal fans were ecstatic with the pick up of Beanie Wells. We clamored over the idea for weeks only for it to come true on draft day. When training camp started and Wells was ruled out with an already tweaked ankle, the Cardinals didn't know how much they could've expected out of the rookie running back. Then, at the midway point of the season, Beanie ran wild and led the Cardinals on an unexpected roller coaster ride, in which they had 110+ rushing yard performances in six out of the last nine games. Wells success was the one of the biggest reasons the Cardinals were able to win the division for the second straight year, and it gives more hope to the Cardinals rushing game next year.
2. Wild Card round of the playoffs against the Packers -The fact that the Cardinals had made it to consecutive playoff appearances was impressive and a feat on it's own, but realistically, most of us expected the Cardinals to get back. Leading up to the game, a Cardinals/Packers match up had shootout written all over it, with both teams featuring air-it-out quarterbacks and Pro Bowl receivers. While a shootout was fairly accurate, the best way to describe the overtime win would be, a battle till the bloody end. Both Kurt Warner and Aaron Rodgers played the best games of their lives and each threw for over 375 yards and at least four touchdowns. Both team's defenses played a disappearing act as the game wound up becoming the highest scoring contest in NFL playoff history with both teams scoring a combined 96 points.
1. The Cardinals road success - This is without a doubt, the biggest surprise of the Cardinals season. One of Ken Whisenhunt's goals when he joined the team three years ago was to make this team a winner on the road. He went as far as making the team stay on the East coast last year(which didn't make a difference) when the Cardinals had back to back road games. When the Cardinals derailed the Carolina Panthers on the road in the playoffs last January, the team flipped the switch. A team that looked outright terrible on the road the previous seven seasons, was winning in other teams stadiums - dominantly. The Cardinals finished 6-2 on the road, with one of the losses coming from a Kurt Warner-less offense against a red-hot Tennessee Titans team. With their early struggles at home, it's completely subjective to say that the Cardinals wouldn't have returned to the playoffs had they not played so well away from home.
I thought long and hard about the top two surprises, and when it came down to it, winning six with the possibility of seven games on the road just surprised me more. Those are just my opinions - what are your surprises of the Arizona Cardinals 2009 season?