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Tackling The Turnover Problem

Cards know they have to cut giveaways to give themselves a chance

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Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald tries in vain to rip an interception away from Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib at the end of last week's loss to the Buccaneers.




MINNEAPOLIS – The Cardinals' issues may not be that simple. But it'd be impossible to tell the Cardinals that.

If they fix one thing, they will find ways to win.

"Turnovers," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers."

The Cardinals already have 23 turnovers this season – 12 interceptions and 11 fumbles. Last season, they had 36 for the entire season. They play the Vikings Sunday understanding their margin for error isn't as great as last year, and while they can have games in which they overcome (for instance, against the Rams in the season opener), giveaways on the road will lead to them giving it away.

"Beating a dead horse, it's the turnovers," wide receiver Steve Breaston said. "Everybody knows what we have to do. Everyone is probably frustrated with talking about it every week. The biggest thing is taking practice and carrying over to the game Sunday.

"Everybody knows, I know, the media knows, the commissioner knows what we have to do."

The Cards gave up four fumbles in the opener against the Rams but won. They had three turnovers each (five interceptions and a fumble) in the blowout road losses at Atlanta and San Diego. And five more in Seattle.

The last two games the Cards have played have hurt the most. There is a belief that without turnovers, they could have conquered the Seahawks on the road and beaten the Buccaneers (four turnovers, including two returned for touchdowns) at home. A 5-2 record would feel much better than 3-4 going to Minnesota.

Then again, every NFL team can find a way to play that what-if game. The reality is the turnovers can't be taken back.

"It puts us behind the eight-ball," coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

Whisenhunt looks at the closeness of the Tampa game – the Cards were in position to tie or win until an interception with two minutes left – and believes "there has to be something to the fact we're working." The offense is playing better, and even though new-old starting quarterback Derek Anderson threw the final pick, he did seem to improve with Breaston back in the lineup.

Whisenhunt wants the Cards to avoid mistakes early against the Vikings, and hopefully do something positive (a touchdown drive wouldn't be bad). That would help the Cardinals' mental state away from home, which hasn't been good.

"Our road play?" Whisenhunt said. "It's been pretty horrific to be honest with you."

The Cardinals do get to face a Vikings team that has been reeling. A good start and close game, and the restless Minnesota fans may just turn on the home team.

Give the ball away, though, and the Mall of America Dome could come alive, and the Cards would rather avoid that scenario.

"Everyone is tired of talking about it," Breaston said. "We have to do it."

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