The 1975 St. Louis Cardinals where one of most exciting teams of the 1970’s. Unfortunately, the Cardinals couldn’t get over the hump and advance to Super Bowl X losing to the Los Angeles Rams 35-23 in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. Under head coach Don Coryell in his third season after previously leading San Diego State unleashed one of the best offenses of the decade. The offense was led by quarterback Jim Hart and a variety of weapons to torture many a defense. With powerful running backs Terry Metcalf being a big play man along with the NFC rushing leader in 1975 Jim Otis pounding the opposition, When Hart needed to go up top he had wide receiver Mel Gray and Hall of Fame tight and Jackie Smith to bombard defenses. In this latest installment we take a look back at some of the best moments from 1975.
September 21, 1975 Busch Memorial Stadium St. Louis, MO St. Louis Cardinals 23 Atlanta Falcons 20: On opening day in 1975 the Cardinals had to struggle against the pesky Falcons to eek out a narrow victory. The Cardinals entered the fourth quarter trailing 20-13 had to score ten points in the fourth quarter to overtake the Falcons 23-20. Cardinals quarterback Jim Hart hit wide receiver Earl Thomas from 8 yards out for the tying score. This was setup after Cardinals safety Clarence Duren recovered a Woody Thompson fumble at the Falcons 29-yard line. In the final minutes Hart drove the Cardinals downfield 72 yards to setup the winning field goal. Jim Bakken of the Cardinals connected on his third field goal of the day this time from 25 yards away.
Earlier in the game Bakken kicked field goals of 22 and 39 yards out. Terry Metcalf scored the other Cardinals touchdown breaking away from 39 yards out for the first score of the game Dave Hampton of the Falcons scored touchdowns of 6 and 1 yards for two of the three Atlanta scores. Rookie quarterback Steve Bartkowski added a 1-yard sneak in the second quarter. It was the NFL Debut of the number one pick of the 1975 NFL draft in Bartkowski.
November 2, 1975 Busch Memorial Stadium St. Louis, MO St. Louis Cardinals 24 New England Patriots 17: The Cardinals entered the fourth quarter trailing the visiting Patriots 17-10 before a two touchdown rally in the fourth quarter. Cardinals running back Terry Metcalf scored two of his three touchdowns in the fourth quarter on scoring bursts of one and seven yards in the quarter. Metcalf’s 27-yard punt return setup the last touchdown when brought the ball to the Patriots 33-yard line. Jim Bakken of the Cardinals connected on a 21-yard field goal with 2:40 left in the third quarter to make it 17-10. The only other Cardinals score came in the second quarter when Metcalf returned a Mike Patrick punt 69 yards to give the Cardinals a brief lead 7-3 in the quarter.
The Patriots jumped out to their lead when John Smith kicked a 32-yard field goal to give a brief lead at 3-0. Steve Grogan hit Randy Vataha on a 11-yard scoring pass to give the Patriots the lead at 10-7. The Cardinals tried to tie the game late in the second quarter when Bakken attempted a 44-yard field goal but was blocked by Ray Hamilton. In the thurd quarter Hamilton scooped up a JIm Hart fumble and raced 23 yards for the score making 17-7 Patriots. The Patriots tried to tie the game late in the fourth quarter but the Cardinals Pete Barnes intercepted a Grogan pass to preserve the victory.
The Cardinals used these victories to power their way to a division title in 1975 but lost to the Los ANgeles Rams in the NFC playoffs. With a diverse offense and special teams the Cardinals where just as good as anybody during the 1975 season.
1975 St. Louis Cardinals by John Schaefer