Linebacker Joey Porter's solid play hopefully can help the Cards make a playoff push.
Emotionally, Ken Whisenhunt admitted, losses like Sunday's in Minnesota take a toll.
"It's hard when you lose one like we have the last two weeks," the Cardinals coach said Monday. "It makes you sick to your stomach."
That illness should subside soon. It has to, with NFC West rival Seattle visiting this weekend to begin the second half of the season. The Cardinals, 3-5 halfway through the schedule, can determine on their own if they want to revisit their queasiness at the end of the season. In theory, the back-to-back three-point losses to Tampa Bay and Minnesota could come back to bite the team in its quest for a division three-peat.
Then again, the Cardinals go into their final eight games with this knowledge: Only one opponent (a road game at Kansas City Nov. 21) has a winning record. The current combined record for the Cards' final six opponents? A gaudy 12-36, and that includes the Rams' 4-4 mark.
Those numbers come to mind when safety Kerry Rhodes talked about being on a New York Jet team that was 4-4 one season, only to rally to finish 10-6.
"Easy we could be 5-3. Or we could be worse," Rhodes said. "We are 3-5 and that's the reality of it. We have to take it as, 'The first half of the season is gone, it isn't the way we wanted it, but we have half a season to right it.' "
The players were also still mulling their Minnesota fate Monday. Safety Adrian Wilson said simply the Cards would move on, and when asked if it was that easy, Wilson replied, "It's not. But we will because we still have a chance."
The big test of the week will come Wednesday, Whisenhunt said. That's when practice starts and the new week truly begins.
Progress was made, Whisenhunt said. He liked the efficiency of quarterback Derek Anderson with no turnovers. He was encouraged by the defense, at least up until the final minutes.
Perhaps Whisenhunt also digested the loss with the knowledge another quarterback in the class of a Brett Favre isn't on the remaining schedule.
"We have a chance to right this," Whisenhunt said.
Wilson said the Cards have to learn how to finish games, an inconsistency which has left the last two weeks (and even a couple of wins) hard on the heart.
"We're close, but we're not getting it done," wide receiver Steve Breaston said. "The fight is still there. There is nothing wrong with the fight. It's about the executing."
Said Rhodes, "The process in this league, it isn't one that has to be long or tedious. It can turn around in an instant."
ABOUT THE RUN GAME
Whisenhunt was asked why the Cards didn't run the ball more in the fourth quarter, and about the run game overall. The coach mentioned it was difficult to run from a team's own 1-yard line because the threat to pass is so small. The Vikings were also jamming the line of scrimmage with players, daring the Cards to throw and "then you have to be able to throw the football."
"It's unrealistic to sit up here and say 'We're just going to run the football when we want to run the football,' " Whisenhunt said. "If they put 10 guys on the line of scrimmage, it's going to be difficult to run.
"I think it's easy to sit there and say, 'Why didn't you run the ball in the fourth quarter?' Well, then you're going three plays and out. We were trying to move the football and give us the best chance to get the first down and take time off the clock. There's always room to second guess what happens when it's over."
Wilson came within inches of knocking down what was the game-tying touchdown pass to Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Whisenhunt said Monday Favre was a big reason for the completion, throwing an excellent pass to the right spot.
"I think you have to try and keep from getting discouraged defensively because our guys worked hard to get in the right position to try and make plays," Whisenhunt said.
Wilson wasn't happy with the loss but wasn't backing off his coverage.
"I wouldn't change one thing about that last play," Wilson said. "I had good position and he made a good throw and catch."
It looks like defensive end Kenny Iwebema will be lost for the season with a torn ACL suffered against the Vikings. Iwebema said Monday he was waiting to hear officially from the doctor but Whisenhunt said he was "not optimistic."
Iwebema got hurt on the opening kickoff of the second half when he was hit and his foot was planted on the turf. But Iwebema refused to make it an artificial turf problem.
"I'm not going to say the turf did it because that'd be (stupid)," He said. "There were 106 guys playing on there (Sunday) and I didn't see anyone else grabbing their knee."
Iwebema also insisted that, whatever happened, he wasn't going to get depressed about his latest round of health problems (he most famously had a tumor removed from his chest in the summer of 2009). "I gave up on the "Why mes' last year," he said. "The 'Why mes' are gone and past."
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