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Seeking A 3-0 Start

Hall of Famer Dierdorf recalls the last time Cards won first three games

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Offensive linemen Daryn Colledge (71), Lyle Sendlein (63) and Adam Snyder (68) celebrate last week's victory in New England, which gave the Cards a 2-0 record.


Until the NFL season began, 1974 had plenty of headlines.

People Magazine published its first issue, Hank Aaron became the home run king, and Richard Nixon resigned the presidency.

Then football began and three weeks into the season another historical moment occurred, although it doesn't carry the same weight as the three mentioned above: The St. Louis Cardinals started the 1974 season 3-0 after beating the Cleveland Browns, 29-7.

For many it's a forgotten game in a forgotten year. To the Cardinals, however, 1974 was the last time they started a season 3-0. In five of the past 38 seasons, they flirted with history, winning their first two games only to drop the third.

Heading into Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles at University of Phoenix Stadium, the Cards are 2-0 for only the second time since 1991. Last time they entered Week 3 undefeated was 2008, the season they went to the Super Bowl.

But this year's squad isn't looking back – 1974 was a year before the team's oldest player, Vonnie Holliday, was born – and they're not looking ahead, either.

"We're not even thinking about (being 3-0)," wide receiver Early Doucet said. "If that comes with us executing the game plan, then so be it."

Dan Dierdorf has seen seasons start like this before.

He was the starting right tackle on the Cardinals' 1974 team, which finished 10-4, and has been a TV analyst since retiring in 1983.

"I know what it's like to get off to good start and I know what it's like to get off to bad starts," the Hall of Famer said. "You only dream about getting off to good starts. The only picture you paint in your mind is getting off to a great start. I see on a weekly basis somebody's dreams going up in smoke.

"I'm glad things are working out for the Cardinals. You got to feel good for the team."

The Cardinals had three straight 4-9-1 seasons before the 1974 campaign. While the Cardinals of the mid-1970s took the league by surprise because of Don Coryell's innovating passing game, Dierdorf said, the Cardinals of 2012 have used its defense to surprise the league.

They've won nine of their last 11 and are one of six undefeated teams heading into Week 3. That doesn't mean the Cardinals are satisfied.

"We've won two games but we haven't won playing our best football," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "I think that says two things: It says we have guys that are just finding ways to make it happen and make plays and we'll get come out with a win. But why can't we just put it all together and play a complete game?"

A win Sunday and the momentum might just start rolling, Doucet said.

"Being 3-0 is definitely a confidence builder, which you need in this game with everybody feeling confident about their performance and how they're performing throughout the week," he said. "It definitely makes for exciting football. The enthusiasm is up and there's a sense of urgency and we just want to continue to build off of the things that we've been doing good and just take it one game at a time."

After the next 14 games, however, the Cardinals hope to be playing in at least one more this season, nose tackle Dan Williams said.

He hasn't experienced a playoff game since getting drafted in 2010. But Williams knows starting 1-6, like the Cardinals did in 2011, doesn't help.

"We saw how our start last season affected us from getting into the postseason," Williams said. "Our goal is definitely to get back to the postseason."

A loss Sunday won't make or break that goal, but a win will bring the Cardinals' one step closer to playing in January.

And it'll put a smile on an old-timer's face.

"I'll be thrilled for them," Dierdorf said. "I'll be very happy. People in St. Louis might think I was a traitor but they'll have to deal with that. I'm proud of the fact that I'm in the Ring of Honor out there. They're my team."

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