The Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys have a rivalry that goes way back.
At least, they do in my mind.
From the time the Cardinals moved to Arizona in 1988 until 2001, the teams met twice a season as members of the NFC East.
And, for the most part, those meetings all ended the same way.
On October 14, 1990, the Cardinals beat the Cowboys by a score of 20-3 at Sun Devil Stadium. The Red Birds would not beat "America's Team" again for nearly seven calendar years.
The Cowboys rattled off 13 straight victories, many of which came in front of blue and silver-clad fans at Sun Devil Stadium.
It was horrible.
But on September 7, 1997, in front of a huge crowd and on TNT, something amazing happened: the Cardinals beat the Cowboys.
From then on, the "rivalry" has been even, with the teams splitting their last 18 contests.
The teams are set to battle once again, albeit in a preseason game that doesn't count, Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium. In honor of the matchup, this edition of "The 5" will go over the best games in the Arizona vs. Dallas rivalry. You know, from a Cards fan's perspective.
1. September 7, 1997 -- Cardinals 25, Cowboys 22
The game that seemed to turn the tide, this one seemed destined to be like the the ones that preceded it. After taking a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter, the Cardinals watched the Cowboys reel off the next 15 points. A Kent Graham touchdown pass to Frank Sanders with just under two minutes left in the third quarter got the Cards to within eight, and a one-yard TD strike from Graham to Pat Carter, combined with a two-point conversion toss to Rob Moore, tied things up with just over a minute to play in regulation. The teams traded fumbles in overtime before Kevin Butler bounced a 20-yard field goal off the left upright. The ball fell the right way and the Cardinals won the game. By the way, that goalpost was summarily removed from the ground and paraded down the street, and 13-year-old me loved every moment.
2. January 2, 1999 -- Cardinals 20, Cowboys 7
Oh, this one felt good, and you could make a great argument for this one topping the list. And if not for the previous game ending a ridiculous losing streak I unfortunately witnessed much of first-hand, it probably would be. The Cardinals, in the playoffs for the first time since moving to Arizona, went into Texas Stadium and summarily destroyed their nemesis. The Cards were up 20-0 at one point in the fourth quarter, as the defense suffocated Troy Aikman (22-of-49 for 191 yards with 1 TD and 3 INT) while holding Emmitt Smith to just 74 yards on 16 carries. And by the way, Aeneas Williams picked off two passes while limiting Michael Irvin to just four receptions for 32 yards. It was quite simply a glorious afternoon of football.
3. October 12, 2008 -- Cardinals 30, Cowboys 24
The 3-2 Cardinals hosted the 4-1 Cowboys in a game that saw the J.J. Arrington return the opening kickoff for a touchdown. The Cards would eventually go up 24-14 with just under 12 minutes remaining, only to watch the Cowboys storm back to score 10 points in the final two minutes of regulation -- including Nick Folk's 52-yard field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter. Overtime was pretty uneventful until the Cowboys, forced to punt from their own end zone with a minute remaining, watched the Cardinals' Sean Morey block Mat McBriar's punt. The ball was scooped up by Arizona's Monty Beisel, who took it three yards for the game-winning score.
* November 15, 1998 -- Cardinals 38, Cowboys 35
*I know the actual score of the game was Cowboys 35, Cardinals 28, but...
It was pass interference, plain and simple. And had the call been made correctly, things would have been very different.
The Cardinals entered the game 5-4 and eying a spot in the playoffs, but this one could not have started out much worse. The score was 28-0 before anyone really knew what happened, and Arizona seemed destined to get blown out of the stadium as well as the playoff race. However, the Cardinals woke up late in the second quarter, as Jake Plummer got things going to the point where the Cardinals were down just 35-21 entering the fourth quarter. A seven-yard TD pass from Plummer to Adrian Murrell made the score 35-28, and after getting the ball back on their own 22 with just 52 seconds left, the QB drove Arizona to the Dallas five with nine seconds remaining. On the final play, Plummer lofted a pass to Rob Moore in the the end zone, but Dallas' Kevin Smith clearly interfered on the play. No flag was thrown and the game ended. But don't worry, as previously noted, the Cardinals would get their revenge just a month and a half later.
4. September 10, 2000 -- Cardinals 32, Cowboys 31
Last-second heroics were a staple of Jake Plummer's tenure as Arizona's quarterback, and this game was a prime example. Down 26-21 with less than six minutes remaining, Plummer engineered a drive that culminated with a 17-yard TD pass to Frank Sanders. The two-point conversion failed, but the Cards, up 32-31 with less than two minutes remaining, held on for the win. Plummer, who finished the game with 243 yards passing and three touchdowns, was named the NFC Player of the Week for his effort.
5. October 20, 2002 -- Cardinals 9, Cowboys 6
In a game that likely set football back at least a couple decades, the Cardinals won a field goal fest that improved their record to a surprising 4-2 to start the season. Sure, Arizona would go on to win just one more game the rest of the season (wow, guess the 2012 campaign wasn't all that unique), but Bill Gramatica's 40-yard boot in overtime was enough to put a smile on every Cards fan's face that afternoon.