two-game stretch – coupled with the team's first 2-0 start in 17 years – carries with it a weight often unseen.
"We are going to hit the road and it'll be a challenge, but it's one of those things that, at the end of the year, it'll make us better," linebacker Clark Haggans said. "It's part of the journey. I think everybody is going to embrace it."
The Cardinals, who dominated the Redskins in Washington statistically a year ago yet lost, have a chance to post a 3-0 record for the first time since 1974. It would be a crucial NFC win as well; coach Ken Whisenhunt pointed out this week that even if the Cards had beat San Francisco at home last year as they should have, his team would have still lost the playoff tiebreaker to the Redskins by virtue of the head-to-head loss.
The postseason is also impossible without gaining some road wins. Every playoff team last season won at least three games on the road. Of the 12 playoff teams, seven had winning records on the road.
That's in stark contrast to the Cardinals' recent history. The Cardinals have won more than two games on the road just twice since 1995. In that span, the team is 24-81 on the road – and that includes the team's 1-0 road record this season.
"I have been on teams that have gone 8-0 on the road and traveled and won," quarterback Kurt Warner said. "I don't know (the secret). There are differences when you change surroundings and structure. There is always a little something to that. Bottom line, you have to figure out how to get yourself ready."
That's the theory behind the Cards' caravan to Virginia. Setting up these two road games as a package deal keeps the players from enduring two five-hour plane rides in five days and will help the body clocks heading into the second game against the Jets.
Ironically, the Jets play in San Diego on "Monday Night Football" this weekend, meaning they will be dealing with the two long plane flights in a few days before preparing for the Cardinals.
"When you go East from Arizona, it definitely takes a toll on you," defensive end Bertrand Berry said. "Playing a game at 10 a.m. our time, you want as much rest and recovery as you can.
"I think it will only help us not getting back on the plane. It's up to us to take advantage of it."
First, though, the Cardinals must face the Redskins with only their "normal" flight out Friday. It gives the players a chance to adjust their bodies Saturday before Sunday's game.
Last season, the Cards couldn't get over their poor start against the Redskins. But on this team's road to recovery, winning away from home this time could set the direction of the season.
"This game right here could put us over the hump," cornerback Eric Green said. "It's make or break right now."
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 9/20/08.