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Hitting Halfway With Victory In Mind

Cards hope to use win as building block for second half

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Punt returner Patrick Peterson is hugged by teammates Reggie Walker (left) and Early Doucet (85) after his touchdown Sunday.



The celebration was going to be huge, because the Cardinals had gone almost two months without a victory.

"We haven't won a game since Week One," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said incredulously, as if there would have been any doubt otherwise. "We were elated, absolutely.

"We are definitely going to build on it," he added.

The reality is that the Cardinals reached the midway point on their schedule with a disappointing 2-6 record. But they managed to step out of their losing streak by beating the Rams and managed to regain some hope as they ready themselves for the back half of the season.

"It was much needed," coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday. "I think you could see that in the emotion of our guys in the locker room afterward. When you come in here every day and you're working and you want to do well and things don't go your way, it's tough. It's really tough."

One game isn't everything, however. The Rams were coming off their own emotional streak-buster the week before against the Saints and they still ended up with a loss.

"I don't think it's going to affect us, as far as our preparation, other than guys are going to have a little more pep in their step because we got a win," Whisenhunt said.

The Cardinals will have their own emotions wrapped up in their next game. A trip to Philadelphia is difficult anyway, but it will come with the added subtext of the pre-training camp trade that sent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick to the Eagles for quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Kolb, suffering from a bad turf toe, didn't play against the Rams. He wants to play against the Eagles for the obvious reasons, but Whisenhunt said Monday it was impossible to know yet what Kolb's status could be.  

John Skelton could potentially make another start. Skelton did some good things, Whisenhunt said, although he also lamented the offense's inability to make the Rams "pay" for some of the chances they took on defense.

Skelton did, however, win for the third time in three home starts during his brief career.

"I think (the win) will spark us," Skelton said. "We basically forgot how to win those close games we just couldn't finish. Something like this will hopefully propel us next week."

If the Cardinals can keep getting defensive performances like Sunday – preventing any touchdowns, despite the Rams piling up 383 yards of offense – they could cause some problems over their final eight games.

Finding that defensive consistency has been difficult. The Cardinals also couldn't run the ball as well against St. Louis – Skelton led the team with 38 of their 70 rush yards – and Skelton could only complete four of 12 targeted passes to Larry Fitzgerald.

But as Whisenhunt likes to say, it's always easier fixing such problems after a win. The Cardinals finally have one of those, and had highlights like Patrick Peterson's 99-yard game-winning punt return and the blocked field goal of Calais Campbell among the highlights.

"We don't look at our record and feel sorry for ourselves," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said.

That doesn't mean a win here or there – or Sunday – doesn't help.

"It seems like it's been a long time," Whisenhunt said. "It has been a long time."

EXTRA POINTS

Linebacker Joey Porter underwent arthroscopic surgery on his injured knee Friday. It is expected to be a short recuperation period and he will return this season. Porter did use crutches at some points during Sunday's game while standing on the sideline, but was able to discard them at other times, walking with a limp. Rookie Sam Acho has started for Porter the last two games. …

Peterson was in for one offensive play although it wasn't run. "It was a mess," Whisenhunt said, declining to say who was in error in the formation. The Cards called a time out. "We may try it again, we may not," Whisenhunt said. …

Tight end Todd Heap, in his first game back after a hamstring injury, only briefly played Sunday. "There were certain things he didn't feel comfortable doing," Whisenhunt said.

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