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The Road Less Traveled

Posted Oct 22, 2009

Cardinals trying to show they have forged new path away from home

The Cardinals won in Seattle last weekend to start 2-0 on the road for the first time since the 1991 season.
 
 
History has been rough on the Cardinals when it comes to playing on the road, and by extension, its players.

“The only way we’re going to have people stop asking us about playing on the road is when we continue to win on the road,” said receiver Larry Fitzgerald.  “When we do that throughout the course of the year, people will stop asking.”

The Cardinals had a history of struggling when playing away from University of Phoenix Stadium and, before that, Sun Devil Stadium.  But that seemed change after the Cards dismantled Carolina, 33-13, in the Divisional playoff round last season.

“I think that anytime that you have success, especially when you are going to the East coast in a playoff game as big as it was and after what this team has been through for all those years, it does give you confidence,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said.  “I think that having had success in Carolina certainly allows us to go into a situation and not be intimidated or not be awestruck by the noise by playing on the road. I think that has helped us.”

Heading into Sunday night’s game in New York at Giants Stadium in front of a national TV audience, the Cardinals can improve to 3-0 on the road this season, something the franchise hasn’t done since 1982.

“We’re already against all odds, so nobody is expecting us to come in and be a productive team” cornerback Bryant McFadden said.  “There’s no pressure really. As a team, as a whole, we’re going in there with the mindset that we have to play consistent, play four quarters.”

The Carolina victory showed the team’s mental strength, defensive end Calais Campbell said, and those circumstances should serve the Cardinals well this week.

“This is like a playoff game we’re going into this week with the Giants,” Campbell said.

The Cardinals would love a repeat performance of last week’s game in Seattle, where they held the ball for all but 43 seconds in the first quarter against Seattle and built a 14-0 lead, essentially taking the raucous crowd out of the game.

Arizona will encounter the same hostile environment at Giants Stadium.

“There has to be a lot more focus on road,” Fitzgerald said. “You’re in a hotel room and away from home and out of your routine.  When you’re at home … it’s a different comfort.  When on the road you’re kind of a little on edge and you don’t know what to expect.  You kind of have that mentality where you have to throw that first punch and get it going.”

Having a veteran quarterback who knows what it takes to win on the road can put his teammates at ease. Kurt Warner once played for a Rams’ team that went undefeated on the road one season.

“I have never gone into an away game and thought, ‘Oh man, we’re on the road, we might not win,’” Warner said.  “It never crosses my mind.  I feel like if we go out and execute and play our game we can beat anybody, anywhere. However, when you go on the road and play a team like the Giants, you have to be on the top of your game.”

Going on the road used to mean a sure loss for the Cardinals, but this team, under Whisenhunt, has changed that mentality by winning five of their last seven, including the playoffs, outside of Phoenix.

“We know what it takes now to win on the road,” linebacker Karlos Dansby said.

Added Campbell, “When you win, that’s how you shut people up and prove the critics wrong. “
 
 
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