While researching my article on DeAndre Hopkins’ receiving first downs, I came across a striking statistic. Since 1994 (as far back as Pro Football Reference has queryable play-by-play data), there have been three seasons where a receiver gained at least 800 receiving yards and had at least 49.5% of that receiving yardage come while his team was trailing by at least 14 points.
Amazingly, all three seasons belonged to a different Arizona Cardinals receiver. In 1995, Rob Moore gained 907 receiving yards, and 475 (52.4%), came while his team was down by at least two touchdowns. In 2000, David Boston gained 1156 receiving yards, and 591 (51.1%), came while his team was trailing by 14 or more. In 2003, Anquan Boldin gained 1377 receiving yards, and 682 (49.5%) came while trailing by at least 14.
Three different seasons. Three different receivers catching passes from three different quarterbacks, (Dave Krieg, Jake Plummer, and Jeff Blake, respectively). The only common thread uniting them was the franchise they played for.
This immediately became my second-favorite Arizona Cardinals fact. Which inspired me to write a quick trivia question about what is, to my mind, the single most Arizona Cardinals statistic ever.
So far this season, the Arizona Cardinals have been one of the best teams in football, while the Chicago Bears have been one of the weaker teams. Imagine for a second that Arizona embarked on the greatest stretch of football ever played, winning every single game. Imagine that Chicago simultaneously set a new mark for futility, losing every single game.
How many weeks, (not counting byes), of consecutive wins and consecutive losses do you suppose it would take for the Cardinals to have a higher lifetime winning percentage than the Bears?1
The Chicago Bears have a lifetime winning percentage (counting ties as half a win) of 57.1%. The Arizona Cardinals have a lifetime winning percentage of 42.4%. The percentage difference might not seem like a lot, but remember that both franchises were founding members of the original APFA back in 1920. Collectively, they’ve combined to play over 2600 games.
If the Chicago Bears lost 192 consecutive games, their lifetime winning percentage would fall to 49.87% If the Arizona Cardinals won 192 consecutive games, their lifetime winning percentage would rise to 49.90%. Which means, for the first time in their history, the Cardinals would have a better winning percentage than the Bears.
Assuming 16-game seasons, that would work out to exactly 12 years. So, barring an expansion of the season, the absolute soonest the Cardinals could pull ahead would be midway through the 2027 season.
How many games is 192? As mentioned, it’s 50 games longer than Hall of Famer John Madden’s coaching career (142 games). It’s about a year and a half shorter than the Houston Texans have existed as a franchise (216 games). It’s as long as Joe Montana’s playing career (192 games, though only 164 of them were starts), and two games more than Walter Payton played (190).
If another statistic better captures the lifetime futility of the Arizona Cardinals, I’m sure I do not know it.
- Counting ties as half a win and half a loss. [↩]