Cardinals' top plays: Dansby returns fumble

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This is one of three plays nominated as the most memorable play in team history. Previously, we featured Kurt Warner’s 64-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald during a loss in Super Bowl XLIII, and we will feature Tim Hightower’s fourth-down run in the NFC Championship Game of the 2008 season against Philadelphia. Please vote for your choice as the Cardinals’ most memorable play.

Score: Cardinals 51, Packers 45 OT

Date: Jan. 10, 2010 Site: University of Phoenix Stadium

It was Arizona’s first playoff game since Super Bowl XLIII, and the expectations were high.

About 11 months earlier, the Cardinals made franchise history by playing in their first Super Bowl, and with mostly the same team returning, another run in the playoffs wasn't just expected, it seemed inevitable.

But standing in their way in the wild-card round of the 2009 playoffs were the Green Bay Packers, who were gearing up for a Super Bowl run of their own. In what was a memorable game that included overtime and nearly 100 points, the best play -- and one of the most memorable in franchise history -- was the final one of the game.

When Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked by defensive back Michael Adams on third-and-6 from the Green Bay 24, the ball took a fortunate bounce right into linebacker Karlos Dansby's waiting hands. With nothing but green grass in front of him, Dansby returned the fumble 17 yards for the winning touchdown.

The play sent the Cardinals into the divisional round of the playoffs, where they eventually lost, but it showed the franchise wasn't just a one-hit wonder. This was a team that could win a big playoff game. Teams -- look at the Packers, for example -- win close playoff games and then fall later. But at least the Cardinals were able to get out of the first round after their Super Bowl season.

Arizona fans still remember where they were for Dansby’s fumble return because it was a moment that solidified the future of the franchise -- even if the franchise took a few steps back in future years.