On Jan. 24, 2016, the greatest season in Arizona Cardinals history in terms of wins, points scored and point differential came to a close.
Led by head coach Bruce Arians, whose current team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are headed to the Super Bowl, the Cardinals went 13-3, winning six games by 20 or more points. They finished with the second-best record in the NFC, behind the 15-1 Carolina Panthers.
In the divisional round of the playoffs, the Cardinals defeated the Green Bay Packers 26-20 in overtime, propelled by wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s 60-yard dash inside the 5-yard line. He subsequently caught a shovel pass from quarterback Carson Palmer and dived into the end zone on the ensuing play. That was Arizona’s first playoff win since the 2009 playoffs.
However, the following week Arizona was overpowered by the Panthers and league MVP Cam Newton. He passed for 335 yards and ran for 47 more, scoring four total touchdowns. The Panthers went up 17-0 in the first quarter, and controlled the rest of the game. Carolina won 49-15.
Palmer, who had the best season of his career in 2015, had four interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and also lost two fumbles.
It was a disheartening finish, but still one of the best seasons in team history, especially since moving to the Valley. The Cardinals have made the NFC Championship Game just twice since the relocation in 1988, in 2008 and 2015.
The 2015 squad was perhaps the most dominant regular-season team in franchise history. It owned the best point differential and the most points scored (489). The Cardinals had six All-Pros: cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Tyrann Mathieu were first-teamers while Palmer, Fitzgerald, guard Mike Iupati and special teamer Justin Bethel were on the second team.
Palmer broke the franchise record for passing yards in a season with 4,671 and passing touchdowns with 35. Fitzgerald set the receptions record with 109, which was broken in 2020 by DeAndre Hopkins.
That year was the last time the Cardinals made the playoffs and they have not been better than .500 since.