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Looking For 2-0

Cardinals face Washington with chance to get off to fast start

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Defensive end Calais Campbell and the Cardinals are hoping to walk off the field with a win Sunday just like they did last week against Carolina.


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The difference, truthfully, of being 2-0 or 1-1 isn't that great. All games are created equal, after all.

As Larry Fitzgerald considered it, however – with a division game at Seattle next week following this trip to play the Redskins Sunday – he nodded his head.

"I would love to be 2-0," Fitzgerald said. "That would be a great start. It puts us in a unique position and would make us a contender. That's something that's important to all of us."

If nothing else, it would bring some tangible proof to what the players have been thinking all along, that the Cardinals' overhaul would mean something in the standings.

A 2-0 start isn't the end-all. Most guys tossed out a version of "one game at a time" this week. But, as tight end Todd Heap noted, "To get to 2-0 and start the way we want would be huge, thinking of how new we all are. If we could get on a roll early, we're just going to keep getting better and better in my view."

That's what this early-season schedule is supposed to mean, playing franchises that struggled last season. The Redskins are 1-0 themselves, however, and are thinking many of the same things. The Cards' see Seattle in a week, host a banged-up Giants and then play at Minnesota, another team that may have trouble this year.

That's followed by a four-game stretch of the Steelers, at the Ravens, the Rams and at the Eagles, another great reason to get off to a hot start.

Playoff potential  is helped to begin 2-0 as well. Since the NFL went to 16 games in 1978, 258 teams have started a season 2-0, and 167 have made the playoffs, a .647 clip. In 2010, it was split right down the middle: Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Chicago made the playoffs, but Tampa Bay, Houston and Miami did not. The Texans and Dolphins actually finished with losing records.

The last time the Cards started 2-0, 2008, they made the playoffs.

When it comes to fast starts and the like, however, linebacker Clark Haggans relayed a speech given by special teams coach Kevin Spencer. An NFL season is often compared to a marathon, and Spencer's friend ran the Boston Marathon. Spencer made the point that while it looks like many top runners are jogging, they are actually running hard the whole way.

"He was saying, in relation to football, it's not a marathon, it is 16 sprints," Haggans said. "Sunday we are sprinting … when we run our gassers (at practice), we usually get a 10- or 15-second break. Well, our 15-second break is Monday and Tuesday, and then we sprint again through the rest of the week. We are just running our 16 sprints and we will see where we get at the end."

This leg of the sprint needs to come with better defensive angle. The Cardinals only surrendered 21 points last week but allowed far too many yards to Carolina. The Redskins made enough plays to beat the Giants a week ago. Running back Tim Hightower, just traded from the Cards as training camp started, is Washington's top choice on the ground game and the Cards know a little something about quarterback Rex Grossman. There should be no secrets, and no reason if the Cards clean up their issues they can't pull off a win despite it being on the East Coast – never an easy feat.

The vibe around the Cards, however, certainly makes it feel more attainable than last season. Which is why 2-0 feels possible.

"I think guys, we really believe we are a good football team," Fitzgerald said. "We believe we can win any given Sunday."

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