Quarterbacks Donovan McNabb (left) and Kevin Kolb are trying to get their respective teams out of losing streaks Sunday when the Vikings and Cardinals play in Minnesota.
MINNEAPOLIS – The Cardinals find themselves going to the Mall of America Dome Sunday to face a team that looks an awful like like themselves.
The Cards have managed one win in four games, one better than the winless Vikings, but the similarities do creep in: Games neither team could finish, quarterback growing pains, unexpected defensive lapses.
"They have lost close games like we have, but we need to win it," Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "Simple as that."
Even the talk during the week is mirrored from each locker room, as players and coaches insist they just have to keep working and that a turnaround is near.
"It's one of those things where misery loves company," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. "If you're miserable, everything sounds alike."
With a bye week coming up after this road trip, the Cards desperately want to have a victory in place. Nobody wants to hear the why anymore, but regardless, it doesn't take the sting away from a three-game losing streak when the Cards have fallen by one, three and four points.
The vibe would have been completely different had the Cards just been able to hold a 10-point lead last week at home against the Giants – especially after they took that lead with just a little more than five minutes left. The Giants, however, scored two touchdowns in less than three minutes to stun the Cards.
"Whenever you have a game like that, you think of every little minimal mistake, and what if," running back Beanie Wells said. "What if I would have caught that pass (he dropped)? What if we would have gotten the screen off (instead of taking a late sack)? I don't want to go on further in the season thinking of things like that."
If Wells can replicate his rushing totals – 138 yards and three touchdowns – the Cardinals will be in good shape. They also have to find a way to keep Allen and his teammates off of quarterback Kevin Kolb. Kolb is going to look for Fitzgerald regardless, but Fitzgerald always carries with him some extra motivation playing in his hometown.
The defense also should get more time from young pass rushers O'Brien Schofield and perhaps rookie Sam Acho in an attempt to avoid the defensive meltdown of a week ago.
"We have taken enough losses for guys to understand why we are losing," linebacker Joey Porter said.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said his own team's start has been "heart-wrenching" for players and fans. The Vikings held the halftime lead in each of their first three games, by 10, 17 and 20 points.
Frazier insisted such a rough patch is better endured in September and October rather than November and December, just because there is still time to show progress, and that's the message Frazier has delivered to his team.
"If you look at it any other way, you might as well just cancel the rest of them," Allen said.
That's obviously not going to happen. "They are in the same predicament," Fitzgerald said, although that won't be a problem for one of the teams by Sunday night.