The Cardinals have a key game in Jacksonville Sunday.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Disappointment – and concern – came quickly after the Cardinals' first game of the season.
One loss shouldn't have created such a scenario. But maybe it shouldn't be a surprise.
"The great thing about that is we set an expectation," quarterback Kurt Warner said. "We expect to live up to it and we have to expect to live up to it and when we don't, people get disappointed. That's what we tried to build here so we can't get mad at that."
Expectations produces pressure, however, especially heading into Sunday's game against the Jaguars on the road. If there was disappointment after one loss, two might create panic.
Reality says 15 games remain on the schedule, a point some players brought up after the San Francisco loss. But the Cards and coach Ken Whisenhunt bemoaned missed opportunities throughout the 49ers game, on in the bigger picture, that's what the opener will forever be marked.
"At the end of the season, when you get to games 12 and 13, you start looking back at those games you should've won that could've put you in first place or locked up a playoff spot," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "Those games you can't get back. So yeah, every game is a must-win."
Three teams did rebound after 0-2 starts last season to make the playoffs: the Chargers, the Vikings and the Dolphins. But it's a dangerous path to attempt, with only 22 of the 160 0-2 teams since 1990 eventually getting to the postseason.
"There are only so many games," Whisenhunt said. "I think our team understands the sense of urgency we need to have this week. And that's a byproduct of having been successful. We understand what we have to do and really, we'll see if we are up to the challenge."
The Jaguars are in the same spot, having lost their opener to Indianapolis, lamenting falling two points short of a winnable game.
"We don't take anything as moral victories," Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. "We lost."
The Jaguars flipped the script, playing on the road in the first game and now coming home to avoid the 0-2 start. That will make it more difficult for the Cards, even though Whisenhunt acknowledged that given all the past problems his team has had on East coast trips "it was nice to get that monkey off our backs" when the Cards won in Carolina during the playoffs.
The Cardinals will see a team similar to the one they just played. Like the 49ers, the Jaguars rely on a star running back – Jones-Drew – and the defense to keep them in games. Quarterback David Garrard is more accomplished than Shaun Hill, but he is also being protected by two rookie tackles. The defense will be hampered with the loss of defensive end Reggie Hayward to a broken leg.
That's the backdrop with which the Cards will face their expectations again this week.
"All these games are important," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "Last week is last week, but we're damn sure we wished we would have gotten that one."
Arizona Cardinals Home: The official source of the latest Cardinals headlines, news, videos, photos, tickets, rosters and game day information
Adversity Hits With Kick-6, But Cardinals Overcome To Beat Jaguars
After missed field goal returned for touchdown, Murphy pick-6 spurs 31-19 win
DeAndre Hopkins, Byron Murphy, Marco Wilson Active Against Jaguars
Kelvin Beachum will sit with Justin Murray at right tackle
How To Watch: Cardinals-Jaguars
Check out all the ways to watch, listen and live stream Arizona Cardinals vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 26, 2021
Cardinals Release Brian Winters, Place Josh Miles On IR
Banjo, Hamilton elevated from practice squad; Harlow, Martin promoted
To Stay Undefeated, Cardinals Focus On Struggling Jaguars
The question of a 'trap game' not part of the equation
After Missing Practice, DeAndre Hopkins A Question For Sunday
Notes: Cardinals are now 100 percent vaccinated
Jordan Hicks Earning Snaps, Respect After Frustrating Offseason
Linebacker has played 96 percent of time on defense thus far
A.J. Green Enjoying Early Work With Cardinals
Notes: Defense must respect Lawrence; Murphy doesn't practice
Players In The Spotlight: Jacksonville Week
Moore, Jones, Simmons, Edmonds and Alford key players against Jaguars
Folktales: The Night The Goalposts Vanished
Upset of Cowboys in 1997 ends with caravan down Mill Avenue