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Finding What Works

After fourth straight loss, Cards still believe they can find winning formula

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Quarterback Derek Anderson (left) and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald talk during the Cardinals' 36-18 loss to Seattle Sunday.




It's been a long time since Larry Fitzgerald had suffered through a four-game losing streak.

It came back in 2006, during Dennis Green's last year as coach. The fourth loss was a home game against Kansas City – the week before the Monday Night Meltdown – and in it, Fitzgerald hurt his hamstring, which sidelined him for a career-long three games.

No wonder he was hoping such things were in the rear view mirror.

"Losing four games in a row is not something I wanted to ever experience again," the Pro Bowl wide receiver said after the Cards fell to Seattle Sunday, 36-18, for a fourth straight loss. "I've done it in the past and I know how bitter a taste it leaves in your mouth.

"But I know we have some resilient men in this locker room. We're not going to stand for losing. We're going to fight our way out of this."

The Cardinals are not in the same situation as they were five seasons ago. Green was on his way out back then (the Cards' skid ended after eight straight losses); coach Ken Whisenhunt isn't going anywhere.

The Cards, however, are trying to figure out where they are going.

The way the Cardinals had played the past two games – even in losses – seemed to provide reason for some optimism. Especially hosting a Seattle team that had run off the rails in the same time period. Then the Cards drove down for that first touchdown on the opening possession, and it seemed to stamp some tangible evidence on the whole vibe.

Maybe it was that first third-down play for the Seahawks. Facing a third-and-8, the Seahawks went back to wide receiver Mike Williams, who beat cornerback Greg Toler for a 32-yard gain. It was the beginning of a quick drive that answered the Cards' score, and the beginning of a bad game for the defense.

"I don't think we did a while lot well defensively the whole day, to be honest with you," Whisenhunt said.

It went beyond the defense, however. Whisenhunt mentioned the Cardinals are undergoing some "tough times" and that's unmistakable. At the bye week the Cardinals were 3-2 and feeling good about where their season was headed. A month later, they unbelievably find themselves tied with the 49ers, who have won three straight to fashion their 3-6 record. Taking advantage of what looked like a favorable schedule only would work for the Cards if they, you know, took advantage of a favorable schedule.

That was supposed to start Sunday.

"It's not preparation," nose tackle Gabe Watson said. "We're doing the same thing now as we did the year we went to the Super Bowl, or last year when we went to the playoffs. It's just not translating."

That was what the Cardinals were basically saying afterward. It's worked before. Why can't it work again?

The problem is the Cards are starting to run out of time to prove it true. Next week's game in Kansas City was already going to be important to this team and especially this coach, facing off against the Cards' former offensive coordinator in Todd Haley. Now a victory is probably necessary to breathe life into remaining postseason hope.

The only way that happens is if the Cardinals find a way to tackle better. And generate more first downs. And a host of other things that didn't go right against Seattle.

"It was just bad," Watson said. "All the way around."

Fitzgerald didn't look particularly happy after the game, but he was, as usual, calm and collected in his thoughts. This can happen, he insisted. The losing doesn't have to continue.

"The answer is right here in this locker room," Fitzgerald said. "We know this stuff works. It's been working for us the last three seasons. As players we have to man up and execute the assignments that we're coached to do.

"We have to stick together. We're not going to get down. … We're still in it."

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