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Seattle Trip Brings To Close Difficult Season For Cardinals

Finale, one way or another, figures to create some kind of memory for players

A trio of Cardinals (from left): safety Tre Boston, cornerback Patrick Peterson and defensive end Chandler Jones discuss matters during the team's loss against the Rams last week.
A trio of Cardinals (from left): safety Tre Boston, cornerback Patrick Peterson and defensive end Chandler Jones discuss matters during the team's loss against the Rams last week.

SEATTLE – CenturyLink Field – as it is called now – has been a place Larry Fitzgerald loves to visit, calling it the best venue in the NFL.

It's also a place where the wide receiver has had one of his worst NFL moments, and one of his best.

"We went up there in coach (Ken) Whisenhunt's last year and got beat, 58-0, and that was the second-lowest point in my career (after the Super Bowl loss)," Fitzgerald said. "That was terrible.

"But the next year, to be able to go and win (17-10) in that place, after taking a loss like that, it was one of the best, one of my most favorite victories. So I've had some good experiences and some not-so-fun experiences."

What Sunday will be exactly for Fitzgerald and his Cardinals' teammates is left unknown. A hard season is coming to a close. A loss means the No. 1 overall draft pick, but the reality that comes with it that the Cards would have the worst record in the league. Like last season's finale in Seattle, there are questions about the future of the head coach. Last year, it turned out Bruce Arians told his players – after a dramatic win over the Seahawks – he was going to retire the next day.

This year, the players would like to get another win in Seattle, although coach Steve Wilks is not retiring. What exactly is the status of Wilks after Sunday? Only team president Michael Bidwill knows for sure. Wilks said Friday he had yet to clarify his job status with Bidwill and GM Steve Keim, saying that their constant contact has only been about the season ongoing.

Wilks has been getting public support from multiple veterans – Fitzgerald, cornerback Patrick Peterson, defensive tackle Corey Peters, safety Antoine Bethea. As for the job speculation, Wilks reiterated he blocks out such noise.

"I can't really express the gratitude I feel for those guys in that locker room, because they have to listen to (the speculation) as well," Wilks said. "They are locked in and focused and they are doing a tremendous job. I look forward to this (game)."

The one thing the players all make clear, however, is that decisions about coaches is above their pay grade.

"I honestly think Coach will be here next year," Peterson said. "It's been a tough season for us. We all love coach. Heck of a motivator. The way he is able to get guys going for games, the messages, practice etiquette – everything about Coach, he's a man's man.

"I hope the speculation (of Wilks) is false, but at the end of the day, that is out of my control."

Quarterback Josh Rosen, perhaps mindful of his rookie status, declined to get into it.

"I have thoughts, but it's not really my place to share it," Rosen said. "I love all the coaches here. … All that stuff's out of my control. It's kind of useless to comment."

Wilks, acknowledging that players have come to his defense, said there is "a little bit more to life than just this game." He's wanted to build relationships, which is why Fitzgerald said he is concerned about the coaching staff.

"That's something you never lose sight of, the human element," Fitzgerald said.

There is a final chance to boost Wilks on the field if the Cardinals can get their fifth win in the last six trips to Seattle Sunday. It's all that is left of a tumultuous season, with some kind of change inevitable in the offseason ahead.

Fitzgerald was asked about this season, about his team and his own play. The veteran smiled. And chuckled. But he thought carefully before he answered.

"It's been a good learning experience," Fitzgerald said. "You learn a lot about yourself."

Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders during the Week 16 matchup at State Farm Stadium

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