The second-seeded Cardinals began their playoff run by defeating the fifth-seeded Green Bay Packers 26–20 in overtime in the divisional round, giving quarterbackCarson Palmer his first career playoff win. However, they were blown out by the top-seeded Carolina Panthers in the NFC championship by a score of 49–15, with the Cardinals committing seven turnovers, tied for the most turnovers in a conference championship game since the Los Angeles Rams were defeated by the Cowboys abruptly in the 1978 season by a score of 28–0. The 2015–16 NFC Championship Game was a rematch of the 2008–09 NFC Divisional Round, which saw the 9–7 Cardinals upset the Panthers in their home stadium. The Panthers themselves would go on to play in Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos, losing 10–24. As of the 2018 NFL season, this remains the last time the Cardinals had a winning record and made it to the playoffs.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw 4 interceptions in this game, with 2 of them being returned for touchdowns. The two "pick sixes" led to the first scores of the game for Arizona. Kaepernick became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw 2 pick sixes to begin the game. Overall, the Cardinals bombed the 49ers, 47-7.
With the win, the Cardinals improved to 3-0 for the second straight season.
The Cardinals failed to stop the Rams all game long, only being held to 5 field goals and a touchdown, as a result of ending their three-game winning streak to start the season. With their first loss, the Cardinals drop to 3-1.
The Steelers were led by backup quarterback Landry Jones in this game due to the absence of Ben Roethlisberger. Jones would have a really good game, throwing for 168 yards on only 12 throws. Carson Palmer would throw 2 interceptions while he threw the ball 45 times, completing only 29 passes in the process.
With the loss, the Cardinals fell to 4-2. In this rematch of Super Bowl XLIII, this would turn out to be the Cardinals' only road loss of the season.
Arizona would trail 29-25 in the fourth quarter, but they would outscore Seattle 14-3 in the final 5 minutes. Carson Palmer would throw for 300 yards for the second straight week, and threw 3 touchdowns.
CIN – Tyler Eifert 10-yd. pass from Andy Dalton. (ARI 31–28). 8 plays, 50 yards in 2:43
CIN - Mike Nugent 43-yd. Field Goal. (Tie 31–31). 8 plays, 59 yards in 1:42
ARI – Chandler Catanzaro 32-yd. Field Goal. (ARI 34–31). 6 plays, 70 yards in 1:02
CIN – Andy Dalton- 22/39, 315 Yds, 2 TD
ARI – Carson Palmer- 20/31, 317 Yds, 4 TD, 2 INT
CIN – Jeremy Hill- 13 Rushes, 45 Yds, 2 TD
ARI – Chris Johnson- 18 Rushes, 63 Yds
CIN – Giovani Bernard- 8 Rec, 128 Yds
ARI – J.J. Nelson- 4 Rec, 142 Yds, 1 TD
CIN – Vontaze Burfict- 8 Tackles, 7 Solo
ARI – Kevin Minter- 10 Tackles, 7 Solo
The Cardinals would build leads of 28-14 and 31-21 in the third and fourth quarters, but the Bengals would come back to tie the game 31-31 on a Mike Nugent field goal. Arizona would then march down the field to win the shootout on a field goal from Chandler Catanzaro with 1 second left.
A defense forcing 4 turnovers and sacking Aaron Rodgers 9 times, combined with Carson Palmer throwing for 265 yards, 2 touchdowns and only 1 interception, gave the Cardinals a 38-8 blowout against the Packers.
Even though the outcome of the game would not impact the standings in the playoffs in any way, coach Bruce Arians planned to play the game with all starters. At halftime, down by 24 points, notable starters including quarterback Carson Palmer were pulled from the game.
In a rematch of week 16, the Cardinals once again faced the Packers. This was the first playoff game between the teams since 2009, a game the Cardinals ended up winning 51-45 in overtime, setting the record for the most points scored combined in a playoff game.
The Cardinals would strike first when Carson Palmer found Michael Floyd for an 8-yard touchdown to put them up 7-0. On Green Bay's first drive, they would go down the field and get a field goal from Mason Crosby from 28 yards out to make the score 7-3. Green Bay would get another field goal before the half to cut the lead to 7-6. The Packers would then get the lead after Jeff Janis caught an 8-yard touchdown pass to give them a 13-7 lead. Arizona would cut the deficit to 13-10 after Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 28-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, the Cardinals would take the lead after Michael Floyd caught another touchdown that was tipped by Packers cornerback Demarious Randall in the end zone. The Cardinals would get some insurance with 1:55 left after Catanzaro kicked a 36-yard field goal to make it 20-13. The Packers would get the ball back with a chance to tie the game. With 55 seconds left in regulation, the Packers faced a 4th and 20 from their own 4 yard line. Aaron Rodgers would end up throwing a 61-yard pass to Jeff Janis to put the Packers at the Cardinals 35 yard line. Later, with 5 seconds remaining, Rodgers would throw another Hail Mary pass to Janis to tie the game at 20 and force overtime. Rodgers had thrown a hail mary at Detroit earlier in the season, making him the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 2 Hail Marys in the same season.
With the game in overtime, the Cardinals won the toss. On the first play from scrimmage, Palmer threw a 75-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald to the Packers 4 yard line. Two plays later, Palmer ended the game after he flipped a pass to Fitzgerald on a draw play to end the game and send the Cardinals to the NFC Championship game against 1 seeded Carolina.
With the win, the Cardinals improved to 14-3, remain the only team in the NFL to be undefeated at home in the playoffs, and advanced to the NFC Championship game for the first time since 2008.
After the Cardinals called heads to win the coin toss, Carolina dominated the game from start to finish. With the loss, the Cardinals finished the season with an overall record of 14–4. They also turned the ball over 7 times in a Championship game. It would tie the most giveaways in a single conference championship game with the 1978 Rams.
Formerly the Morgan Athletic Club, the Racine Normals, the Racine Cardinals, the Chicago Cardinals, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Phoenix Cardinals· Founded in 1898 · Based in Glendale, Arizona, Arizona