ST. LOUIS, DEC. 14 -- The St. Louis Cardinals are making a move and this one has nothing to do with leaving town.
The Cardinals, after defeating the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, 27-24, on Sunday, are one of only four teams in the running for the final NFC wild-card playoff spot. St. Louis has made the playoffs only three times since the club moved to this city 28 years ago.
"We're in control of our destiny, and that's a great feeling," rookie tight end Robert Awalt said.
"We're still in it," said Coach Gene Stallings whose Cardinals (6-7) finish the regular season with road games at Tampa Bay (4-9) and Dallas (5-8).
St. Louis executed fourth-quarter comebacks to defeat the Buccaneers, 31-28, Nov. 8 and the Cowboys, 24-13, in the season opener Sept. 13.
The Minnesota Vikings are the leading contenders for the last wild-card spot with a 7-6 record, but the Los Angeles Rams (6-7) and Green Bay Packers (5-7-1) also are in contention.
The Vikings, who finish with a road game at Detroit and a home game against Washington, must lose at least once for the Cardinals to qualify. If Los Angeles, which closes against Dallas and San Francisco, finishes with the same record as the Cardinals, it would qualify by virtue of its 27-24 victory over St. Louis.
"It's a long shot," linebacker E.J. Junior said. "The main thing is, we've got to win our last two games and finish with a winning record."
The Cardinals, who last finished above .500 in 1984, played what may have been their home finale Sunday before 29,623 at Busch Stadium. Behind the scenes, an 11th-hour offer from a group that includes Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft as well as local business and civic leaders is expected to be made sometime this week.
The offer to owner William V. Bidwill reportedly will include the construction of a new downtown multipurpose facility or the construction of a new downtown stadium.
Bidwill had no comment today on the latest possible development.
It would be the first offer since Oct. 29, when Bidwill turned down a compromise 70,500-seat open-air stadium in St. Louis County. Bidwill had signed a nonbinding letter of intent last March with County Executive Gene McNary to play in a proposed $160 million domed stadium, but that deal fell through because of financial difficulties and opposition from the city and environmentalists.