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The Message Is Simple

Posted Nov 26, 2011

Cardinals looking for seventh straight in St. Louis

Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett pressures Rams quarterback Sam Bradford during the Cards' win in St. Louis last season.

ST. LOUIS – Amazingly, Jim Mora – the one-time Colts coach, that is – was nowhere to be found.

So Larry Fitzgerald didn’t hesitate when talking about his team and what was left to play for this season.

“The playoffs, if San Francisco loses every game and we win every game, we’re in the thick of it, so mathematically we are still in this thing,” the wide receiver said, knowing exactly how it sounded given his team owns a 3-7 record. “That’s where I am at mentally and it’s not going to change unless someone tells me different.”

The Cardinals travel to play the Rams (2-8) Sunday. Mathematics might still be on their side, but reality is not. The postseason would take circumstances that are hard to fathom, in large part because the Cards are unable to control their own destiny.

Winning their own games is a different matter. The goal is to “win all of them,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. “Every last one of them. We aren’t trying to be in no battle to get Andrew Luck in the draft.”

The Rams are in a similar situation. The season having slipped away, finding a way to .500 would still be an improvement over last season. Unfortunately for St. Louis, they can’t keep any of their players healthy – tackle Jason Brown and receiver Mark Clayton were the latest to be placed on injured reserve this past week, the 11th and 12th players to land there this season.

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo admitted it has been hard to deal with the injuries – “We are all human,” he said – but insisted his team won’t dwell on its record.

“I know it sounds cliché but I just believe on Wednesday morning that all 32 football teams are doing the same thing,” Spagnuolo said. “They are getting ready to play a football game and whatever challenges you are facing, you have to squarely look into that and face that challenge.”

The Cardinals just beat the Rams a few weeks ago. Patrick Peterson’s 99-yard punt return in overtime – and Calais Campbell’s blocked field goal on the final play of regulation – snapped a losing streak for the Cards and made a winner of starting quarterback John Skelton.

Skelton was making his first start of the season. This time, he could be making his fourth. Kevin Kolb did practice this week, but is listed as questionable and his return is far from certain. Skelton would like the chance to rebound from a terrible game in San Francisco.

Skelton could use a productive day from Beanie Wells. Wells, who practiced fully Friday, hasn’t had a big game since getting hurt against the Steelers and had just 20 yards (on 10 carries) against the Rams in the first meeting.

The offense must improve their play and make sure the defense doesn’t get stuck on the field for more than 44 minutes again, like what happened against the 49ers. The defense played well, but couldn’t hold up that long.

Of course, the defense has had good moments in St. Louis. The last trip there was the opening game in 2010, when safety Adrian Wilson had a sack and a pair of interceptions (and a field-goal block) in a Cards’ win. The Cardinals are attempting to win their seventh straight game in their former home city.

That’s a goal that’s easy to get behind.

“The message is to play these six games the best we can play them and then see where we finish up,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s the message. I think our guys are on board with that. We are disappointed where we are, but our guys are working hard. We want to get better. That’s what the focus is.”

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