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A Loss Looking Forward

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Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald ponders his team's 24-17 loss at the end of Sunday's game at FedEx Field against the Redskins.

LANDOVER, Md. – Left with only his shoes to add to the pinstriped suit he was wearing postgame, Clark Haggans was about 40 minutes removed from his team's 24-17 loss to the Redskins Sunday.

Mentally, the linebacker was much further away.

"I am on New York now," Haggans said, tying his shoes. "You just go in the lab, see what you did wrong, correct it, and keep pushing forward. It's still September. We are trying to play past '08."

The Cardinals often won't give you a whiff of the idea they want to play in

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Darren Urban

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January. Not because they don't think they can get there. Because they think it's the

only* way they can get there.

That concept of one game at a time the Cards preached before and after their first two wins? It was there after the Redskins' loss. No one in the locker room was thrilled the Cards had lost a game in Washington they felt they should have won – for a second straight year – but the season shouldn't be damaged either.

"We ain't worried about it," safety Adrian Wilson said.

There are things to "clean up," as coach Ken Whisenhunt likes to say, while the Cardinals hole up in Virginia this week before heading to play at the New York Jets.

Whisenhunt said he thought his team's defensive issues were more because of offensive execution by the Redskins rather than troubles by his guys, but he didn't have any takers on that in his own locker room by the defense. Wilson lamented that the Cards failed to get a turnover for a second week in a row; Darnell Dockett simply said the defense had to get better.

The two-minute offense isn't clicking as well as it did last season, either, which in the end cost the Cards down seven with about three minutes left. To see the Cardinals go three-and-out – especially with Kurt Warner at quarterback – is simply unexpected.

That failure with 2:46 left, with the Cards holding two timeouts, led to Warner's surprise when the Cardinals didn't go for it on fourth-and-4 at their own 48-yard line.

"I thought we were in that mode where we would have to go for it," said Warner, noting the Cardinals would have to stop the Redskins one way or the other. "That was just my mindset at the time, but the coaches felt (punting) was the best decision there."

It was just one play, though, one sequence that became high-profile but that in itself didn't change the game.

Warner, save for the fluky interception from a diving Carlos Rogers, could have been in position for another stellar day. The Cardinals ran the ball well (116 yards on 23 carries, or five yards a rush) and handled Clinton Portis (68 yards on 21 carries).

There were positives to see, positives that would have jumped to the top of the game stories had Warner been able to lead the comeback that – at one point after Larry Fitzgerald hauled in his 62-yard touchdown catch – seemed almost inevitable.

Instead, the Cardinals lose, and the negatives are accentuated, while the Redskins don't have to consider how they almost let one get away and celebrate the maturation of quarterback Jason Campbell.

Thinking about the Jets is the natural progression.

"It don't get no easier," Dockett said. "The Jets are, trust me, 10 times better than these guys.

"It's the third game of the season. Thirteen games left. We will improve."

If the Cardinals beat the Jets next weekend, they will be 3-1 while playing three of four on the road.

One and done. The thought process isn't going to change.

"We thought we had this one but we didn't," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "So we have to move on."


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 9/21/08.

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