Finally! Cards clinch division, playoff berth - East Valley Tribune: News

Finally! Cards clinch division, playoff berth

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Posted: Sunday, December 7, 2008 2:15 pm | Updated: 8:39 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Cardinals won the NFC West Sunday and earned the franchise’s first home playoff game since moving to Arizona two decades ago. 

SLIDESHOW: Cardinals vs. Rams

 For the first time in 33 years, the Arizona Cardinals are division champions.

The Cardinals won the NFC West Sunday with a 34-10 beating of the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, and earned the franchise’s first home playoff game since moving to Arizona two decades ago.

SLIDESHOW: Cardinals vs. Rams

It is only the second time the Cardinals (8-5) have qualified for the playoffs since relocating to the desert from St. Louis. The club’s last division crown was in 1975 when it won the NFC East, and its last playoff appearance was as a wild-card entry in 1998.

Arizona scored two first-quarter touchdowns to take early control of the game, and made sure it didn’t squander an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth against one of the league’s worst teams.

Arizona took the game's opening kickoff and drove 76 yards on 10 plays, and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run by Tim Hightower. Then after forcing a St. Louis punt, the Cardinals moved the ball 63 yards on six plays, and scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald for a 14-0 lead.

After the Rams' Ron Bartell intercepted a wild Warner throw and returned it to the Arizona 6-yard line, St. Louis got on the scoreboard in the second quarter on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Marc Bulger to Steven Jackson.

Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers connected on a 44-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, and then booted a 22-yard kick a minute before halftime, giving Arizona a 20-7 advantage.

In the third quarter, Arizona took a 27-7 lead on an 11-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Darnell Dockett, who scooped up a loose ball after Gerald Hayes stripped Jackson of the ball. And with just more than three minutes left in the game, rookie cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown to slam the door shut on the Rams (2-11).

The Cardinals host the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday.

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