TEMPE, Ariz. -- We were scraping the bottom of the barrel for Cardinals story ideas today. What is there to say that hasnt already been said? What depressing note can we illuminate that hasnt already been illuminated in this 30-car pile-up of a season? What strength can we muster for yet another grim game preview?
Following a 4-0 start, the Cards have lost nine of their last 10 games to fall out of contention for anything but a high draft pick and a new coach. Following a 7-1 start, the Bears have dropped five of their last six games to fall out of what seemed certain playoff position while threatening the job of their coach.
Fortunately for us, the past provides an opportunity for comic relief. Yes, were going where you thought we were going: to the infamous Monday Night Meltdown in 2006 and then-coach Dennis Greens equally impressive postgame meltdown that was mercifully cut short by the quick thinking of Cardinals vice president of media relations Mark Dalton.
The Bears are in the Valley for the first time since that fateful evening. The last time they arrived, they were sporting a 5-0 record and quarterback Rex Grossman was playing like anyone but Rex Grossman.
The Cardinals were 1-4 and, once again, headed nowhere, yet somehow they rose up for the Bears. They led 20-0 at halftime and 23-3 at the end of the third quarter thanks to four Grossman interceptions and two first-quarter touchdown passes from QB Matt Leinart.
Then it all unraveled. Valley native Mike Brown returned a fumble three yards for a TD for the Bears. Charles Tillman returned another fumble 40 yards for a TD, and Devin Hester then busted loose on an 83-yard punt return for a TD. When Neil Rackers missed a 41-yard field goal wide to the left with 53 seconds left, the Bears had escaped with a 24-23 victory, at which point much of America was treated to one of the greatest postgame tirades in pro sports history, which we present to the right of this column in its entirety.
First, note the first (and only) reporters question lobbed at Green to open the press conference from local freelance writer Mark Brown. This is classic journalism. Throw an easy, non-confrontational question at the subject to get him talking. You couldnt find a more innocuous or better-constructed question than Browns to open the interview. It was just clear that Green wanted to blow -- and he had every right to blow after the Cards' historic collapse.
Second, note Daltons voice in the background after Green had finished. Thanks, coach. Was ever a more graceful yet necessary verbal hook uttered by a media relations representative?
We tried to get the Cardinals and Bears coach Lovie Smith talking about the game this week. Cards receiver Larry Fitzgerald obviously still remembers it but wouldn't go there with azcardinals.com.
I remember everything about it. That was a rough one. We had em, he said, before being asked if the Bears were who he thought they were.
Im not going to touch that, he said, smiling. You know I love Denny Green. Im not going to touch that.
Smith, coach of the Bears since 2004, also took the high road in his Wednesday conference call with the Arizona media.
You know, Im getting up in age, he said Its hard for me to remember some things.
Thanks to YouTube, the nation wont soon forget. With a couple possible exceptions from former Colts coach Jim Mora, Greens meltdown is arguably the greatest clip of postgame fury ever to grace the NFL, and it's the unrivaled best the Cardinals have ever offered. Or it was until Derek Anderson came to town ...
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