A second-half rally helped some statistics and the Cards' belief they wouldn't quit. But the game still evolved into a second straight loss, and made Sunday's homecoming against Buffalo that much more important.
Three-game losing streaks are often difficult to overcome in the NFL.
"You definitely want to get that win just to get the nasty taste out of our mouth," cornerback Rod Hood said. "It enhances the level of the game a little bit. But you can't put any added pressure on yourself. You have to go back to the basics."
The good feelings of the Cards' 2-0 start has passed. Still technically in first place in the NFC West, the Cardinals will benefit from coming back to University of Phoenix Stadium having built a legitimate home-field advantage.
But the Bills are 4-0, and a home date against the powerful Cowboys waiting the following week. The Cards will also be without wide receiver Anquan Boldin for at least the Bills' game, and may still be missing safety Adrian Wilson and defensive end Bertrand Berry because of injury as well.
"We are still in a great position," quarterback Kurt Warner said. "It's nice to come back home. There are a couple of tough teams coming in here, but hey, to be the best you have to beat the best."
Judging Buffalo's start isn't simple. The Bills beat a couple of preseason playoff favorites in Seattle and Jacksonville, but the overall record of their four opponents is a mere 5-11. In their last three games against Jacksonville, Oakland and St. Louis, it took late rallies to come up with victories.
"I don't think we're going to be able to pull these out every week," Bills quarterback Trent Edwards said. "We can find ourselves getting down by quite a few touchdowns the way Arizona throws the ball."
Edwards was asked if he would throw for six touchdowns this week, after Brett Favre shredded the Cards' defense a week ago for the same amount. Edwards played along, saying he didn't think it was possible for him to throw that many, but the Cardinals' defensive backs must improve on their disappointing showing in New York.
But as coach Ken Whisenhunt noted earlier in the week, when it came to the Jets' game, there was plenty of blame to go around. Whisenhunt was talking about issues between Warner's turnovers and the offensive line protection, but it might as well have been about the whole team.
Since Whisenhunt took over, the Cards are 7-2 at home. The Bills, who must travel cross country and who have their bye after this game, likely will not be as desperate as the Cardinals.
The game in New York may have just been an anomaly. Seven turnovers and a caricature of a first half makes like more likely. The Cards have to hope so.
"You can feel that way but it was still us," Fitzgerald said. "You look at the tape and it was still us making the mistakes. We have to correct those mistakes. We can't allow ourselves to be taken out of the football game."
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 10/4/08.