NFL Playoffs: When Did the Arizona Cardinals Last Win a Playoff Game?

Considering the Arizona Cardinals first played a professional game in 1898, one would expect the franchise to have far more accolades than they currently have. Things are never that simple, especially for those old enough to remember the franchise’s years in St. Louis.

However, the Kyler Murray era has been fruitful thus far, and we may even finally see Arizona return to the Super Bowl in the coming years. First, they’ll need to break what has been a lengthy drought without a playoff win.

The Arizona Cardinals haven’t won a playoff game since January 2016

For a time in the mid-2010s, it appeared as if the Arizona Cardinals had finally found life. Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer revived his career under veteran offensive mastermind Bruce Arians following a 2013 trade and immediately formed a stellar partnership with All-Pro receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

After reaching the 2014 NFL Playoffs as a wild-card team, the Cardinals took a massive leap and went 13-3 in 2015. Palmer earned Pro Bowl honors after throwing for 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns. Fitzgerald hauled in 109 catches, 1,215 yards, and nine touchdowns. Young defensive backs Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu (five interceptions) each appeared on the AP All-Pro first-team.

After earning a bye as the NFC’s No. 2 seed, Arizona hosted Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. Trailing 13-10 late in the fourth quarter, Palmer connected with Michael Floyd on a 9-yard touchdown pass and, after an extra point, put the Cardinals up by four. Arizona kicker Chandler Catanzaro extended the lead to seven with a 36-yard field goal with 1:55 left.

Then came Rodgers, who connected with Jeff Janis on a 41-yard Hail Mary to end regulation. Mason Crosby’s extra-point knotted things at 20 and ensured the teams would go to overtime.

Palmer didn’t need long to ensure Green Bay didn’t touch the ball. Fitzgerald hauled in a short pass and ran 75 yards upfield on the first play from scrimmage in overtime. Two plays later, Palmer and Fitzgerald connected on a game-winning touchdown and a 26-20 victory.

The Cardinals’ magical season ended eight days later. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton scored four all-purpose touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) in a 49-15 NFC Championship Game victory.

As of publication, the Cardinals have not won a postseason game since beating the Packers.

Arizona hasn’t reached the Super Bowl since losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Feburary 2009

The Cardinals only played 16 playoff games in their first 101 seasons as an NFL franchise. That isn’t a typo. In the Super Bowl era, Arizona only reached the NFC Championship Game twice.

We covered the 2015-16 run, which came seven years after the Cardinals nearly defeated Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 43. Despite winning the NFC West at 9-7, Arizona took down the Atlanta Falcons, the Panthers, and the Philadelphia Eagles — two division champions and a 9-6-1 wild-card team — in the 2008 postseason’s first three rounds.

In what proved to be Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner’s final Super Bowl, Arizona took a 23-20 lead on Fitzgerald’s 64-yard touchdown pass near the 2:30 mark in the fourth quarter. Playing in his second Super Bowl in four years, Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a 78-yard touchdown drive covering just under two minutes. 

Warner guided the Cardinals to Pittsburgh’s 44-yard line before fumbling in the final seconds. Roethlisberger took a knee moments later, and the Steelers secured their sixth Super Bowl.

The Cardinals are one of several teams who still haven’t won a Super Bowl

Because of dynasties like the 1980s San Francisco 49ers and the modern-era New England Patriots, over a third of the NFL is still yet to win a Super Bowl. That group includes the Cardinals, who entered the 2021 season as one of 12 teams who remain without a Lombardi Trophy in their championship case.

Arizona is one of only five NFC teams, a club that also includes the Falcons, Panthers, Detroit Lions, and Minnesota Vikings. At least the Panthers, along with the AFC’s Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans, have somewhat of an excuse because they’re the league’s three most recent expansion franchises.

Will Murray, the No. 1 overall pick in 2019, finally help the Cardinals win a title? Only time will tell, although history is certainly working against them.

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