Defensive end Darnell Dockett (left) and linebacker Bertrand Berry share a laugh during Sunday's 27-3 win over the Seahawks.
SEATTLE – Kurt Warner came off the field, but before he ducked into the tunnel heading to the Cardinals' locker room, he smiled and stood in front of a few Seahawks die-hards who sit in the corner ready to pelt opponents with verbal shrapnel.
Warner certainly isn't much of a trash talker. But he stood there, opened his arms and good-naturedly said – to the chagrin of disappointed Seattle fans – "Where's your sign?"
The group had a sign before the game, insisting some not-so-nice things were going to happen to the Cardinals Sunday. Warner thought afterward someone had grabbed it and ripped it up as the Cards came out to the field before the game, and wanted to remind the fans just how mistaken they had been.
"I was just going to see what they were going to hold up after we beat them," Warner said.
Perhaps it should have been a white flag given the Cardinals' 27-3 rout.
After the last time NBC shined its "Sunday Night Football" spotlight on the Cardinals and were disappointed when the Cards couldn't stay with the Colts, the network has to be feeling a little bit better. Sure, the Giants were handed their first loss Sunday, but the Cards – who go to New York for some evening football in a week – showed they are in a better place to provide some competition.
Rarely does an NFL game turn on the opening drive, but that's what happened at Qwest Field. The Cardinals had dominated early last season during their trip north and built a huge lead, only to have to hang on by their collective fingernails (or, more specifically, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's hands after his last interception sealed a six-point victory).
This time, it was domination from start to finish, with an emphasis on the start.
Fifteen plays. Eighty yards. Almost 11 minutes off the clock. Add it the pooch kick the Cards got back and the fumble the defense caused into Matt Hasselbeck's miserable day, and the time of possession after the first quarter was ridiculous: 14:17 to 43 seconds.
"If you can march it down the field, play after play after play" running back Tim Hightower said, "I mean, you have a chance to take the crowd out and in a game like this, the crowd means a lot, with the 12th Man or whatever they call it."
From there, the defense was giving nothing, turning Seattle's 12th man against the Seahawks, boos raining down in the second half when the Cards stoned their opponents time and again.
What must the 49ers – like the Cards now 3-2 after spending Sunday on the bye – thought after watching what the Cardinals had on display in Seattle? The Cardinals have, since early September, regretted the way they came out in the season opener, unable to close out the Niners. The what-ifs from that game have plagued this team and probably will sit in the back of their minds until they get a trip to San Francisco later this year to try and even the series.
The Cardinals don't want to get mixed up in that talk right now, though. Coach Ken Whisenhunt cautioned the Cards are only five games into the season. The game was important – it was an NFC West game after all – but no championships were clinched either.
"We have so much more football to play," Hightower said. "The journey is just beginning. But we're playing better and that's all that matters right now."
The Cardinals are 2-0 on the road for the first time since 1991 and carry some momentum into the Giants' game. That's important. But suddenly, with the Cards playing away from home like they are, those other trips – Chicago, Tennessee – don't seem as daunting.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who finally got his first 100-yard game of the season, had just been saying earlier in the week how crucial the win in Seattle would be. Yet he too didn't want to talk about his team and its place in the NFC West.
At least, not yet.
"It's only Week 6," Fitzgerald said. "We've got a long way to go. Come back to me in six weeks and I'll have a better answer."
That may be the time it takes for Fitzgerald to formulate the right words. But it's hard to come up with an answer that would be any better than the statement the Cardinals made Sunday in Seattle.
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