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Christmas Cards

Holiday spent hosting the Cowboys on national TV


Wide receiver Steve Breaston makes a move the last time the Cowboys came to town.

The Cardinals are working this holiday, but unlike LeBron, they don't seem to mind.  
Christmas with the Cowboys.

"I think it's perfect," running back Tim Hightower said. "It's been a rough year. Everyone is going to be watching on the biggest stage. We're not going to the playoffs. So to me, this is a playoff-atmosphere-type game.

"People that don't even watch football are going to turn the channel to it. Of all the experiences you have, it'll be one of my memorable moments. I think it'll give us a chance … Some people just know what they've heard about us, but this gives a chance to make an impression, in front of the whole country, of who we really are."

For now, the Cardinals are a 4-10 team hosting a 5-9 team, albeit on national television as the only game being played. Once, this looked like a game that should match potential division champions, but that ideal disappeared a long time ago.

The battered Cowboys are without quarterback Tony Romo and top rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant, who have both suffered season-ending injuries. They are also without head coach Wade Phillips, who was fired after a disastrous start.

Dallas has rallied to win four of their last six, but enthusiasm remains tempered.

"We have pretty high standards around here so I don't know if anything brightens it up too much," quarterback Jon Kitna said.

The Cardinals who were around in 2008 – like Hightower – remember the Cowboys' last visit, a thrilling 30-24 Arizona victory in overtime that ended with a Sean Morey blocked punt that was recovered by Monty Beisel in the end zone for the win.

It still means something to take on the Cowboys in the national spotlight.

"Heck yeah," cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. "They aren't having a great season, but that's still America's Team."

The Cardinals are down to a pair of games that, in most seasons where the postseason is a faded dream, don't hold much allure. But to play the Cowboys, and then play the rival 49ers with San Francisco's division title hopes potentially on the line, the energy remains high in the locker room.

That, plus as coach Ken Whisenhunt said, the final two weeks are a "big part of the evaluation" for 2011.

"We are all being evaluated," Whisenhunt said. "It's important and hopefully they all got that message."

That means St. Whiz will be making his list. And checking it twice. Just another reason why it's not just another Christmas for the Cards.

"This game is good for us," Hightower said.

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