Coming off of the 9-3-2 season in 1964, the Cardinals had visions of the NFL Title. Visions turned out to be just that about a third of the way through the season. After losing the first game to the Eagles, the Cardinals won four a row. Two of the games in that span really stick out.
Week 2-The 49 to 13 thrashing of the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were the NFL Champions the previous year. This was one of the biggest wins in Cardinal history.
Week 5-The 20 to 7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. St. Louis completely stopped the Steelers offense. The only score for Pittsburgh came on a fumbled punt return at the Steelers five. I saw this game at Pitt Stadium.
After this 4-1 start, fans had be thinking about finishing first in the Conference. Then the roof fell in. The Cardinals lost the next two games before hosting the Steelers. Pittsburgh came back from 14 to 3 in the fourth quarter to lead 17 to 14; but the Cardinals showed their resistance to a loss. With 37 seconds left, Charlie Johnson threw a 59 yard touchdown pass to Bill Gambrell. Final St Louis 21 Pittsburgh 17. After this game, the Cardinals record was 5-3.
The Cardinals lost the remaining five games to end the season at 5-9.
Now for 1966
The Cardinals brought a 7-1-1 record into Pitt Stadium to play the Steelers who were 2-5-1. Pittsburgh used special teams and defense to get the victory.
–Paul Martha returned an interception 38 yards to the Eagle 10. Ron Smith threw a touchdown pass to John Hilton on the next play.
–Andy Russell blocked a punt from Jacky Smith and returned it for a touchdown.
–Dick Hoak, on a pass option play, threw a touchdown for 38 yards to Roy Jefferson.
The Steelers denied St. Louis a touchdown on this game. Final Steelers 30 Cardinals 9
The very next week, with an oddity, the Pittsburgh Steelers went to St. Louis. This was a bitterly fought game full of penalties, turnovers, and sacks. The Cardinals gained 228 yards to just 80 yards for the Steelers. St Louis got two field goals and the Steelers got one. Final. Cardinals 6 Steelers 3.
The victory gave the Cardinals a 8-2-1 record and in contention for the title. However, they lost the final three games to finish 8-5-1. Among those three losses was a 16 to 10 embarrassment to the first year Atlanta Falcons.