Minnesota Aftermath

By ericgoodman

After another tough loss for the Cardinals and at the back end of three straight tough losses, one would not be surprised if Arizona was ready to throw in the towel.  However, this is the new era of the Arizona Cardinals, and they will fight until the end.  This is especially relevant because the Cardinals play a 4-4 Seattle team this Sunday at home.  With a win, both teams will be 4-5 and the Cards will be back in the thick of the NFC West race.

This comes thanks to a 41-7 shellacking of the Seahawks by the Giants.  Both St. Louis and San Francisco were on a bye, leaving the standings like this: St. Louis and Seattle tied for first at a whopping 4-4.  Arizona holds third with a 3-5 record and San Francisco brings up last place with at 2-6. 

Fortunately for the Cardinals, they are still in it.  Next week brings division games for all teams, Seattle comes to University of Phoenix Staduim and St. Louis goes to San Francisco.  As long as Arizona can win their game at home, it doesn’t really matter what happens in the other game.  Now, St. Louis at 5-4 is a scary proposition, however, I don’t believe that they can withstand the rest of their schedule.

The loss yesterday was disheartening, yes, but not a finishing blow to the birds.  With three consecutive losses for the first time since 2007, the Cardinals are in unfamiliar territory (only 6 current Cardinals came from the lowly Dennis Green era, the only before that is Adrian Wilson).

All of the teams are bad on the road this season, and with the Cardinals finishing with 5 of their last 8 games at home, they stand a fighting chance.  The Cardinals players and coaches believe this as well.

As bad as the loss was, coach Ken Whisenhunt and his players didn’t get down on themselves.  In fact, Whisenhunt had some very positive things to say about his team.  “It was nice not to have turnovers, and to be efficient on offense”, he said.  “The defensive and special teams turnovers and sacks were also a positive sign.”

Unfortunately the Cardinals “played well enough to win, but let it get away.  That’s the NFL.”  Whisenhunt believes that they have an advantage because of their remaining schedule.  “The real test is Wednesday when we return to practice.”

Until then, the Cards will be looking at game tape, attempting to find anything that will help them improve in the following weeks.  The only real negative was “it was a shame we couldn’t keep our intensity through the 2nd half.”

It did seem as if the offense gave out in the fourth quarter, especially on their last two possessions in which Derek Anderson was sacked 4 times.  “It wasn’t fun, being in a situation where they can get into a four point stance and pressure Lutui and BK (Brandon Keith).  You would like to see us finish a game up 14 in the fourth, find a way to make a play and finish with the ball in OUR hands.”

Finally, some words of real wisdom from Derek Anderson.  The games in which the Cardinals lose usually end with the ball in the opposing team’s hands, not the other way around.  If the Cards can start finishing with the ball instead of on the other side of it, they stand a great chance the rest of the way.

Larry Fitzgerald said that they “have to find a way to close a game out, put more points on the board, put balls in the end zone and give our defense some help.”  It’s nice to see the offense taking responsibility for its troubles.

Joey Porter may have had the quote of the day when he said, “to lose a game like that in the 4th for a defense is challenging.  We put ourselves in a great position; we own up to that.  That’s a position you want to be in, up by 14 in the 4th when you know they are going to pass the ball and to not put pressure on the offense.  Let the game be on OUR shoulders.  Luckily, we play 16 games.”

Other positives include, of course, the play of Larod Stephens-Howling, who seems to make big plays every time he touches the ball.  Coach Whisenhunt described his play as “exciting” and said he was “thrilled” at what he brings to the table.

Also, despite some bumpy spots, Andre Roberts is “turning into a good football player, with his physical presence; route-running and blocking.”  Whiz also said he looks much more comfortable out there and looked very confident running the ball in for his first career touchdown.

Whiz says that he is not worried about his team emotionally, and that they will continue to work and to not turn the ball over.  If they do that, they should “win our share of football games.”

To reiterate that the team is not completely down at the moment, I found some recent quotes on Twitter posted by members of the team.  Larry Fitzgerald posted, “life is full of ups and downs.  The trick is to enjoy the ups and have courage during the downs.”  Max Komar said they are “definitely trying to work out the kinks”, and Calais Campbell wrote, “we lost three tough ones in a tow, but my head is still high.  Division game this week, we need to find a way to get a win.”

Amen brother.

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