Recall that in 1964 the St. Louis Cardinals at 9-3-2 finished second in the Eastern Conference of the NFL. This was 1/2 game behind the Cleveland Browns, who were 10-3-1. Forgotten was that the Cardinals bettered the Brown in the head-to-head series. There was 33 to 33 tie at Cleveland in September. In week 13, the Cardinals at home defeated Cleveland 28 to 19. St. Louis had trouble with the last place New York Giants, a team at 2-10-2. New York won easily at Yankee Stadium 34 to 17. Two weeks later came a mud bath 10 to 10 tie at St Louis.
Almost same thing happened in 1968. St Louis, at 9-4-1, finished 1/2 game behind the first place Cleveland Browns. The Browns were 10-4 in the Century Division of the Eastern Conference. This time, the Cardinals defeated Cleveland twice during the season. A bad first half against the 2-11-1 Pittsburgh Steelers kept the Redbirds out of the Post Season. In fairness, St. Louis played poorly against the NFL’s better teams during the season.
Three of the Cardinals four losses were:
At home to the Los Angles Rams (10-3-1) 24 to 13;
At home to the Dallas Cowboys (12-2) 27 to 10;
At the Baltimore Colts (15-1) 27 to 0.
Within the Century Division there were three key games.
At Cleveland in week 5 the Browns came in at 2-2 to the Cardinals 1-3. Willis Crenshaw gained 94 yards. The Cardinals held the Browns to 22 yards rushing. Bill Nelson completed 17 of 39 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns. Cardinals 27 Browns 21.
at home in week nine against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh was 2-6 to the Cardinals 5-3
The Steelers lead 21 to 0 at the half; the Cardinals came back for a 28 to 28 tie. For the Steelers-Quarterback Dick Shiner completed 18 of 28 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns. Roy Jefferson had an 80 yard punt return for a touchdown and caught a 52 yard touchdown pass. J.R. Wilburn caught six passes for 117 yards. For the Cardinals-Jim Hart went 18 for 28 for 353 yards and three touchdowns. Bobby Joe Conrad, Dave Williams, and Jackie Smith each caught five passes totaling 352 yards and three touchdowns. The first half cost the Cardinals the playoffs. The game ended in a 28 to 28 tie.
At home in Week 14 against Cleveland. The Browns were 10-3 and the Cardinals 8-4-1. Bobby Joe Conrad caught a 48 yard touchdown pass. Jackie Smith scored a touchdown on a 36 yard end around. The St. Louis Cardinals won 27 to 17.