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JC_AZ

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Arizona Cardinals' J.J. Arrington (28) runs a kickoff back for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008, in Glendale, Ariz. At right is Dallas Cowboys' Orlando Scandrick (32). THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Matt York

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Believe it or not, these Arizona Cardinals might be the real thing

16 hours ago
TEMPE, Ariz. — Futility has long worn an Arizona Cardinals jersey.
Perhaps, just perhaps, that could end this season. After consecutive victories over the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys, these Cardinals might be the real thing.
Competing in the weak NFC West, coach Ken Whisenhunt's team could well be headed to the playoffs for the first time in a decade and only the second time in 24 years. All right, so it's only six weeks into the season and its record is a mere 4-2. The last Arizona team to start that well, in 2002, finished the season 5-11. But there are a number of reasons to believe this edition of the Cardinals is no desert mirage. For starters, try an ambitious coach. Whisenhunt directed the Cardinals to 8-8 record in his first season a year ago, giving fans every reason to be satisfied when you consider the team's sorry history since owner Bill Bidwill moved them to Arizona from St. Louis 20 years ago. Whisenhunt, though, wasn't satisfied. He had been offensive co-ordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers before he replaced Dennis Green in Arizona. The Steelers know what true success is all about. "It's not the standard that we want," Whisenhunt said at the time.
The Cardinals had talent, but no depth. Whisenhunt and his staff went about changing that in the off-season. By the time the season began, he believed he had the personnel to win, and that led him to choose 37-year-old Kurt Warner over Heisman Trophy-winner Matt Leinart at quarterback.
Warner got off to a great start, leading the team to a win at San Francisco and a home blowout of Miami. The Cardinals were tied at Washington when Warner's first interception of the season led to the deciding touchdown in a 24-17 loss. Then came a disastrous first half against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands. Arizona trailed 34-0 at the break. How they responded is a big reason for hope with this team.
The Cardinals scored touchdowns on their first five possessions in the second half to make a game of it, and would have scored a sixth TD late in the game had Anquan Boldin not taken a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit in the end zone, causing the standout receiver to drop the ball.
Back home against Buffalo, the Cardinals came up with a nasty hit of their own, safety Adrian Wilson sending quarterback Trent Edwards to the sidelines with a concussion on the third play of Arizona's 41-17 rout of the previously unbeaten Bills.
The Cardinals were equally rough against the Cowboys, who left Sunday's 30-24 overtime loss with quarterback Tony Romo, punter Mat McBriar, running back Felix Jones, wide receiver Sam Hurd and linebacker Anthony Spencer all hurt. Romo called Arizona's defensive front - led by Darnell Dockett, Antonio Smith and Bryan Robinson - the difference in the game.
The Cardinals were the victims of several questionable calls by officials, including two apparent fumbles by Romo that were nullified. The Cowboys then stormed back from a 24-14 deficit with 10 points in the final two minutes of regulation. Yet four plays into the overtime, special teams ace Sean Morey took advantage of a missed Dallas assignment to block McBriar's punt. Backup linebacker Monty Beisel scooped up the ball and returned it for a score, and Arizona had beaten "America's team."
Whisenhunt and players ran to the fans behind the Arizona bench and exchanged high fives. It was a fitting reaction, since the Cardinals - who used to play in front of a few thousand fans in the desert heat - have developed one of the NFL's best home-field advantages in the raucous confines of their three-year-old stadium.
The Cardinals are 9-2 at home under Whisenhunt and have won six in a row there. The Cardinals' passing game is among the league's best. Warner mostly looks like the quarterback who led St. Louis from mediocrity to a Super Bowl title, only occasionally reverting to bad habits such as holding the ball too long or fumbling when he's sacked. Discounting his seven-turnover performance against the Jets, he's thrown two interceptions and lost two fumbles in five games.
Larry Fitzgerald has the best hands of any receiver in the league and can outjump just about any defender. Boldin put his contract differences aside and was having a standout season before his sinus was fractured by the Jets. In Boldin's absence, second-year receiver Steve Breaston has emerged as a serious threat. In a testament to the team's depth, Warner threw to nine receivers in the victory over the Bills. That brings us to one of the lingering questions about this team.
Whisenhunt likes to talk about versatility, and he wants to build a team around a strong running game. But the Cardinals rank 26th - out of 32 teams - in rushing, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. At 30 and in his 11th NFL season, Edgerrin James has a lot of miles on those legs. He seems to be a step slower than he was in his salad days with the Indianapolis Colts. Rookie Tim Hightower, a steal as a fifth-round pick, already is the short-yardage back. Expect him to get a bigger share of carries in other situations as the season progresses. Then there's that problem away from home. After this week's bye, Arizona plays at Carolina and St. Louis. "We've got to take this home show on the road," Whisenhunt said.
If the Cardinals can manage even a .500 record away from home, the prospects for post-season seem bright. Arizona already has a two-game lead in its division. The Cardinals play five of their last eight, and three of their last four, regular season games at home. Expect them to play at least one more game somewhere after that.
 
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dreamcastrocks

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Ah, the formatting..
 

dreamcastrocks

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It looks like they did their homework. Good article.
 

ASUCHRIS

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Wow, one of the most well thought out articles about the Cards from a major news source, and far more accurate and insightful than many of the national rags.
 

SoCal Cardfan

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Arizona Cardinals' J.J. Arrington (28) runs a kickoff back for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008, in Glendale, Ariz. At right is Dallas Cowboys' Orlando Scandrick (32). THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Matt York

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Believe it or not, these Arizona Cardinals might be the real thing

16 hours ago
TEMPE, Ariz. — Futility has long worn an Arizona Cardinals jersey.

Perhaps, just perhaps, that could end this season. After consecutive victories over the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys, these Cardinals might be the real thing.
Competing in the weak NFC West, coach Ken Whisenhunt's team could well be headed to the playoffs for the first time in a decade and only the second time in 24 years.

All right, so it's only six weeks into the season and its record is a mere 4-2. The last Arizona team to start that well, in 2002, finished the season 5-11. But there are a number of reasons to believe this edition of the Cardinals is no desert mirage. For starters, try an ambitious coach. Whisenhunt directed the Cardinals to 8-8 record in his first season a year ago, giving fans every reason to be satisfied when you consider the team's sorry history since owner Bill Bidwill moved them to Arizona from St. Louis 20 years ago. Whisenhunt, though, wasn't satisfied. He had been offensive co-ordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers before he replaced Dennis Green in Arizona. The Steelers know what true success is all about. "It's not the standard that we want," Whisenhunt said at the time.

The Cardinals had talent, but no depth. Whisenhunt and his staff went about changing that in the off-season. By the time the season began, he believed he had the personnel to win, and that led him to choose 37-year-old Kurt Warner over Heisman Trophy-winner Matt Leinart at quarterback.

Warner got off to a great start, leading the team to a win at San Francisco and a home blowout of Miami. The Cardinals were tied at Washington when Warner's first interception of the season led to the deciding touchdown in a 24-17 loss. Then came a disastrous first half against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands. Arizona trailed 34-0 at the break. How they responded is a big reason for hope with this team.

The Cardinals scored touchdowns on their first five possessions in the second half to make a game of it, and would have scored a sixth TD late in the game had Anquan Boldin not taken a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit in the end zone, causing the standout receiver to drop the ball.

Back home against Buffalo, the Cardinals came up with a nasty hit of their own, safety Adrian Wilson sending quarterback Trent Edwards to the sidelines with a concussion on the third play of Arizona's 41-17 rout of the previously unbeaten Bills.

The Cardinals were equally rough against the Cowboys, who left Sunday's 30-24 overtime loss with quarterback Tony Romo, punter Mat McBriar, running back Felix Jones, wide receiver Sam Hurd and linebacker Anthony Spencer all hurt. Romo called Arizona's defensive front - led by Darnell Dockett, Antonio Smith and Bryan Robinson - the difference in the game.

The Cardinals were the victims of several questionable calls by officials, including two apparent fumbles by Romo that were nullified. The Cowboys then stormed back from a 24-14 deficit with 10 points in the final two minutes of regulation. Yet four plays into the overtime, special teams ace Sean Morey took advantage of a missed Dallas assignment to block McBriar's punt. Backup linebacker Monty Beisel scooped up the ball and returned it for a score, and Arizona had beaten "America's team."

Whisenhunt and players ran to the fans behind the Arizona bench and exchanged high fives. It was a fitting reaction, since the Cardinals - who used to play in front of a few thousand fans in the desert heat - have developed one of the NFL's best home-field advantages in the raucous confines of their three-year-old stadium.
The Cardinals are 9-2 at home under Whisenhunt and have won six in a row there. The Cardinals' passing game is among the league's best. Warner mostly looks like the quarterback who led St. Louis from mediocrity to a Super Bowl title, only occasionally reverting to bad habits such as holding the ball too long or fumbling when he's sacked. Discounting his seven-turnover performance against the Jets, he's thrown two interceptions and lost two fumbles in five games.

Larry Fitzgerald has the best hands of any receiver in the league and can outjump just about any defender. Boldin put his contract differences aside and was having a standout season before his sinus was fractured by the Jets.
In Boldin's absence, second-year receiver Steve Breaston has emerged as a serious threat. In a testament to the team's depth, Warner threw to nine receivers in the victory over the Bills. That brings us to one of the lingering questions about this team.
Whisenhunt likes to talk about versatility, and he wants to build a team around a strong running game. But the Cardinals rank 26th - out of 32 teams - in rushing, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. At 30 and in his 11th NFL season, Edgerrin James has a lot of miles on those legs. He seems to be a step slower than he was in his salad days with the Indianapolis Colts. Rookie Tim Hightower, a steal as a fifth-round pick, already is the short-yardage back. Expect him to get a bigger share of carries in other situations as the season progresses.

Then there's that problem away from home. After this week's bye, Arizona plays at Carolina and St. Louis. "We've got to take this home show on the road," Whisenhunt said.

If the Cardinals can manage even a .500 record away from home, the prospects for post-season seem bright. Arizona already has a two-game lead in its division. The Cardinals play five of their last eight, and three of their last four, regular season games at home. Expect them to play at least one more game somewhere after that.

hopefully easier to read.
 
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