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Cards Spurred By Return Scores

Notebook: Team ties NFL record for fumble TDs; Porter continues hot streak

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LaRod Stephens-Howling breaks down the field during his 96-yard kickoff return during Sunday's loss.




MINNEAPOLIS – While the Cardinals are still looking for offensive consistency, they have already seemingly found another consistent way to score – returning the ball, one way or the other.

The Cardinals had two more return scores Sunday in the 27-24 overtime loss to the Vikings: a 96-yard kickoff return for LaRod Stephens-Howling, and a 30-yard fumble return on a Vikings kickoff return by Michael Adams. It brings the Cards' return touchdowns to an astonishing eight in eight games.

With four opponent fumbles returned for scores, the Cardinals have already tied the NFL record for the season with still half a season to go.

"You've got to put yourself in a position to make a play," Stephens-Howling said of the return scores. "When you get opportunity, we have a lot of people taking advantage of it."

The Cardinals would have had a third Sunday, but safety Kerry Rhodes had the ball stripped from behind during a 66-yard interception return, and the ball went through the end zone for a Minnesota touchback.

Stephens-Howling now has three kickoff returns for touchdowns in his brief Cardinal career, putting him second all-time in franchise history behind the six of Ollie Matson.

"It definitely felt like we had a spark of momentum," Stephens-Howling said. "But they made one more play than we did today."

PORTER IS HOT



Linebacker Joey Porter continued his torrid play of late, with two more sacks, two tackles for loss and five hits on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. It was his best game of a recent hot stretch, and he now leads the team with five sacks.

But after the Cardinals' difficult loss, Porter took exception to a question about his big day.

"Earlier in the week I don't get no interviews, I get a couple sacks and you all surround me like I did something amazing," Porter said. "You all are the same people that told me three weeks ago I didn't have it no more. So I get two sacks and I have 10 people waiting for me.

"I ain't got nothing to prove to you all. I will be there where I need to be. Someone starts off slow and don't have any sacks you think I should have, I don't get no interviews. I get two sacks and you all want to be in front of me. I find that funny."

FITZ'S HOMECOMING


Larry Fitzgerald sat on the bench right after Sunday's game, head down, seemingly unable to fathom the fact the Cardinals had lost.

"We are doing some things positive, but it's just not good enough right now," Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald had seven receptions for a season-high 107 yards, and he single-handily sparked what had been the game-turning drive up until that point, making back-to-back catches for 46 yards on the Cards' lone touchdown drive of the game late in the second quarter.

There were times Fitzgerald seemed to have gotten open, only to have him unable to hook up with quarterback Derek Anderson.


"We left some things on the field, we definitely did," Fitzgerald said. "But it was better than it was last week."

INJURY UPDATE


Defensive end Kenny Iwebema left the game after hurting his right knee, a play that did not look good at the time. But even though Iwebema didn't return, he was walking decently after the game. As for his status, "we'll see tomorrow," Iwebema said.

Linebacker Paris Lenon also left late in the game with an ankle injury. His status is also to be determined.

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