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Needing To Sustain Starts

Notebook: Cards must follow up first-drive scores; a different kind of leadership


Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald hauls in a pass to set up a first-drive touchdown against the Seahawks,

For two straight games, the Cardinals have taken the opening kickoff down for a score.

Against the Seahawks, it was a touchdown. Against the Chiefs, it was a field goal. In both cases, it looked like the offense turned a corner. In both cases, points were difficult to get the rest of the game.

"(Starting fast) is a real good sign," wide receiver Steve Breaston said. "But we have to sustain that throughout the game. You have to put up points when it counts.

"Putting up points the first time you have the ball in your hands, that counts. But you can't settle. When we are able to score points, we have to score them. We can't leave anything out there. In the situation we are in, everything counts. Second drive, third drive."

The Cardinals have scored only 188 points this season, and that includes eight touchdowns on returns.

In both the previous two games, the Cards managed only one touchdown and one field goal after their game-opening scores.

"We try to go out, start fast and gain some momentum," quarterback Derek Anderson said. "Not to be kind of sarcastic about it, (but) we don't go out there and try to go three and out."

Breaston acknowledged the offense seems to be generating yards a bit easier of late, "but that doesn't get you wins. And field goals don't get you wins."

"We've got a great kicker in (Jay) Feely, but you want to put points on the board."


Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he is still getting the proper leadership from players despite the losing streak, although he acknowledged leadership now is different than when a team is winning.

"Whenever you go through a stretch like we have gone through, it's hard," Whisenhunt said. "What I look for is guys sticking together and how they work.

"When you are in the hunt like we have been the last two years, that's a different style and we have guys for that. But it's hard to stand up and do a lot of things other than work your tail off and keep everyone together when you are going through tough times."


Anderson's lone previous "Monday Night Football" appearance in his career came in 2008 while quarterbacking the Browns. It turned out to be a nice night.

Anderson completed 18-of-29 passes for 310 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 35-14 over the New York Giants, giving him a passing rating of 121.3.

"I had a good time," Anderson said. "That was a similar situation. Going into it (the Browns) had a little bit of a disappointing season, we played well and finished the season strong. That's what we are trying to do (now)."

The Giants had won eight straight and were defending Super Bowl champions when Anderson and the struggling Brown beat them. It was basically Anderson's last hurrah in Cleveland, as he ended the season on injured reserve and fell out of favor in 2009.

"I do remember that (game)," Whisenhunt said. "I hope that's the case. Maybe he will have some of that Monday night magic."


The 49ers began the year with Alex Smith at quarterback, but when San Francisco got off to a poor start and then Smith got hurt, coach Mike Singletary turned not to backup David Carr – who hadn't impressed since signing in the offseason – but to third-stringer Troy Smith.

Troy Smith led the 49ers to two wins in his first two games, posting impressive passing ratings of 115.2 and 116.7. Last week, however, the 49ers was shut out by Tampa Bay, Smith struggled and the Buccaneers said they could predict San Francisco's plays.

"It's a week-to-week thing," Niners coach Mike Singletary said of Troy Smith's starting job. "The first couple of weeks I thought he did a pretty decent job (but) obviously last week did not go as well as a total offense."

Whisenhunt said it was "hard to say" what facing a different Smith means.

"It's hard to judge because they have changed the offensive scheme since he has been there a little bit with a new offensive coordinator," Whisenhunt said.

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