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Cardinals go to Chicago in a familiar position


Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (left) and safety Adrian Wilson glance at the scoreboard at the end of last week's lost to Carolina.
CHICAGO – The loss was painful. On that point, there's no one arguing from the Cardinals.

But, given what this team has endured and played through since the beginning of the 2008 season, perhaps no group is better suited to rebound from a defeat like the Cards suffered against Carolina last week.

That experience – something gained along the way with similar difficult losses – is what the Cards are leaning upon heading into Sunday's game against the Bears.

"When you face adverse things like we faced last year, it's not going to be a shock," linebacker Clark Haggans said. "It's what to expect and how to respond and responding in the right way. That's where I think we are more seasoned, kind of like we're a wine that aged some more, and it's going to be sweeter."

The reality for the Cardinals is that they are still in first place in the NFC West, heading on a road trip where they have been 3-0 this season.

And in what may be proper for such a game, the Cards will play a team riding the same roller coaster.

The Bears (4-3) have the same record and have endured some difficult losses, including getting steamrolled by the Bengals two games ago. They responded with a 30-6 win over hapless Cleveland last weekend, but had enough problems in the game to question how good the Bears really can be.

Like Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has thrown 11 interceptions. The Bears have struggled to protect Cutler and their running game has been inconsistent.
"It's a long season of ups and downs," Cutler said. "But we have a veteran team that understands that."

In the end, the Bears – undefeated at home – just want to be positioned for a shot at the playoffs, Chicago coach Lovie Smith said.

The Cards have the same goal.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he thinks his team, which also was 4-3 last season after seven games before embarking on a three-game winning streak, is better than a year ago. The loss to the Panthers didn't derail that thought, especially since the Cards had won three straight prior to last week.

"Most of us realize one game doesn't make a team or one game doesn't break a team," Warner said. "I think nationally there was a little more excitement than at least some of us believed there should be (after beating the Giants two weeks ago). You have to understand, in this business it can change quickly.

"There are a lot of things you can learn over the past two weeks. One is we haven't arrived yet. (The other is) we can't just show up and beat anybody."

Last season, the Cardinals came back with wins after bad losses to the Jets, Eagles and Patriots, and repeated it this season after disappointing losses to the 49ers and Colts.

A win in Chicago would fit nicely into that pattern.

 "I just think we have a resilient group of guys," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "There will always be minor setbacks in a season. It's a long season. Guys get paid a lot of money on the other side too. We're just fortunate to be able to rectify it this weekend."

There was no hangover from the Panthers' game, Haggans said, proving the Cardinals are right where they need to be.

"We were on a roll and we stumbled," Haggans said. "You dwell on those things and we could trip up for the next eight, nine weeks. Then you're out of the playoffs and getting presents from Santa Claus watching the playoffs on TV. Nobody wants that."

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