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Same Time, Same Place For Cards' Hopes

Team hopes Rams' visit can equal end to losing streak for second straight year


Calais Campbell (93) leaps to block the Rams' game-winning field goal on the last play of regulation during last year's meeting between the teams at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cards went on to snap their six-game losing streak in overtime.

The parallel isn't lost on Calais Campbell.

Reeling from a six-game losing streak in 2011, the Cardinals hosted the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium as a desperate team. The game ended in a 19-13 overtime win for the Cards, sparking a season-ending 7-2 run. Sunday, the Cardinals, reeling from a six-game losing streak, host the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium as a desperate team.

"It's entered my mind," Campbell said. "It shouldn't because last year is last year, but I think history repeats itself sometimes and you know if you did it before you can do it again."

Campbell played a huge role in last year's win. The Rams lined up on regulation's final play with Josh Brown ready to boot a 42-yard field goal that would send the Cards to yet another defeat. Instead, Campbell rose up to block the kick, saving the game for Patrick Peterson's electrifying 99-yard game-winning punt return in overtime.

Campbell admitted he tells himself before every kick he's going to block it, "but that time, in my mind, I really remember telling myself, 'I'm tired of losing.' "

That mentality certainly applies to the current state of the Cardinals (4-6). The first time the Cards saw the Rams (3-6-1) this season, they were 4-0 and in first place in the NFC West. The Rams came away with a 17-3 win that Thursday night, however, and the Cards haven't been able to find their way back into the win column since.

Coincidentally, the Rams haven't won a game since that night either. The Rams beat up the Cardinals' offensive line that night and offensively the Cards stalled too often. That was also the game in which running back Ryan Williams suffered his season-ending shoulder injury.

"We just continue to roll with the punches trying to play hard, play effectively and play with enthusiasm," said wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had just one catch last week and dropped a fourth-down pass that could have set up a game-winning touchdown.

"I don't think it's any more difficult for me than anyone else in this locker room. We all put in the same work, we all have the same amount at stake. We're all feeling it. We all want to get out of this funk. We know St. Louis put a drubbing on us on national TV. We've got to go and avenge that loss."

The Cardinals are a much different team since that night, and that isn't just because that team was undefeated and this one is not. Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was battling a hamstring problem and while he played, he was severely limited and a non-factor then, compared to the explosive player who went against the Falcons last week.

The Cardinals will have a new look for the Rams on the other side of the ball too. Beanie Wells, injured the first meeting, ran for 228 yards the last time he saw the St. Louis defense. And the Rams will miss the John Skelton run altogether, having faced Kevin Kolb at quarterback the first time and now meeting rookie Ryan Lindley behind center.

"We're expecting to see a different offense than we saw the first time around," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.

Lindley's performance will be under the microscope. He has shown some poise in practice and in Atlanta but his production against the Falcons wasn't nearly enough. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he can't really know what to expect out of Lindley when the game comes, only that Lindley deserves the chance to show what he can do.

The Rams sacked Kolb nine times in the first meeting, and Lindley is prepared for an aggressive turn from Fisher's unit.

"You're going to get tested no matter where you're at when it's your first start," Lindley said.

While Lindley's career, in some respects, is just getting started, the Cardinals are hoping other parts of their season are coming to an end – most specifically, streak they are mired within. A win against the Rams solved that problem before. The hope is that the problem can be solved again under the same circumstances.

"I hope this game doesn't follow in the same footsteps that it would take a blocked field goal and punt return to win," Campbell said. "I'd like it for it to be more decisive than that, but I will take a win no matter how I can get it.

"I'm tired of losing."

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