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Cardinals Can't Afford Letdown Against Bengals

No dwelling on last week's emotional win over Seattle as another primetime game awaits

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Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham celebrates after catching the go-ahead touchdown pass against the Seahawks.


Backup quarterback Drew Stanton spoke for the entire sideline with his arm-waving, rapid-fire-punching, high-kicking dance that went viral last Sunday night.

The Cardinals beat the Seahawks in Seattle, and the emotional outbursts throughout the night revealed how euphoric the players were about shedding that monkey off their back.

As memorable as the victory was, the momentum gained from it can be halted in a heartbeat if the Cardinals (7-2) don't turn the page quickly. The Bengals come to town for "Sunday Night Football" with a record of 8-1, and even with last week's loss to the Texans, are among the best teams in the NFL.

The Cardinals weren't hesitant to enjoy the fruits of their labor after beating Seattle, but by Wednesday, they said it was ancient history. It must be if their smooth ride is to continue for another week.

"They know the process and there's no hangover," coach Bruce Arians said. "The Bengals are too damn good."

The Bengals are one of the few teams as efficient and balanced as the Cardinals. While the Cardinals are the only team in the NFL ranked in the top-5 in both total offense and defense, the Bengals are one of only two teams – along with the Patriots -- ranked in the top-5 in both scoring and scoring defense.

Quarterback Carson Palmer faced his stiffest test of the season to date in Seattle and continued his stellar play, throwing for 363 yards and three touchdowns. He will look to impress again in a showdown against his former team, but could have fewer weapons as wideouts Michael Floyd and John Brown are both questionable to play with hamstring injuries.

The Seahawks mostly struggled defensively against the Cardinals, but found success by blitzing heavily in the fourth quarter. The offensive line's ability to handle pressure could play a big role in the outcome against Cincinnati, which has a pair of defensive line stars in Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins.

"It's just a good defense," Palmer said. "It's very physical. They can rush the passer with four. They do a ton. There's a ton of different looks. It's been a long three days just watching film."

The Bengals averaged 30.3 points through their first six games but have averaged only 17.7 points in their past three. Despite the recent lull, quarterback Andy Dalton has a quarterback rating of 104.6, and the quartet of wide receiver A.J. Green, running back Giovani Bernard, tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Jeremy Hill makes Cincinnati multi-dimensional.

"They've got a lot of skill position players, a lot of guys that cause problems in one-on-one matchups," safety Rashad Johnson said. "That's what the game is going to end up being about."

The Cardinals will play their second consecutive nationally-televised affair and third in the past four games. They beat the Ravens in Week 7 on "Monday Night Football" in addition to the primetime win over Seattle. The Cardinals will play in front of a national audience at least four times this season, and that number could jump if any of their marquee matchups down the stretch get flexed.

Arians likes to see his players rewarded for their impressive production this season.

"It's a matter of respect," Arians said. "You don't get this game unless someone respects you or wants to see you on television."

The "Sunday Night Football" crew was around the team facility on Friday, and it's clear the Cardinals' outspoken coach and collection of player personalities have made a dent on the national scene. Stanton's celebration was everywhere following the Seattle game, and the way the team won turned a lot of heads.

The best way to stay in the country's consciousness is to continue winning. It's inarguable that beating the Seahawks was a huge step forward for the organization, but no one wants to be a one-hit wonder.

"Last week was a big week," safety Tyrann Mathieu said. "This one is even bigger, because of what we did last weekend."

Images of key players for this week's opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals



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