Quarterback Kevin Kolb walks off the field as players battle for his fumble following his ninth sack of the game.
The offensive line was the subject, and as Ken Whisenhunt addressed it Friday less than 24 hours after the Cards had lost for the first time this season in St. Louis, the message wasn't unlike most he'd give any other time.
There were things to correct, the Cardinals' coach said. Technique needed improving, the running game needed to be more productive, but it would get better.
"We're not going to panic," Whisenhunt said.
The emotions of not only Thursday's loss but of the first five weeks were already in the process of being flushed Friday. The Cardinals, sitting with a 4-1 record even with the St. Louis stumble, face a laundry list of beaten-up players that need rest. Whisenhunt acknowledged it wouldn't have made sense to have a practice Friday, even if he had wanted to quickly correct mistakes.
Instead, the next few days will be about reflection before prep for the Buffalo game Oct. 14 begins and players return to practice Monday.
"This game is one of those games where you sit back and think about how you are going to let it affect you," wide receiver Early Doucet said. "Are you going to go into a slump? Or do we look at it that we got punched in the face, and now what are we going to do? Are we going to man up and get better and move on in a positive way? That's the type of team I think we have."
That'll be behind Whisenhunt's even-keeled approach. There would be no public flogging from the coach toward his offensive line, and anyone expecting one hasn't been paying attention since he took his job. After 17 sacks allowed in two weeks, Whisenhunt reiterated he wants to see the line get back to the production it had the first three games, when quarterback Kevin Kolb was sacked only five times total.
Pressed about his faith the line can return to that level, Whisenhunt had his own question: "Why are you going to say it gets worse or stays the same?"
"Are we disappointed we had that many sacks? Absolutely," Whisenhunt said. "Are we working to get better. Do we expect to get better? Sure we do."
Whisenhunt also responded to a question about the increasing fan criticism of line coach Russ Grimm, saying "That's the way it goes when you have a game like that. We've got to focus on continuing to improve and get better as a team.
"We're 4-1," Whisenhunt added. "(But) we realize after a game like that people are upset. We're upset."
Whisenhunt wasn't about to delve into fault on the nine sacks – "I'd put them on our offense, everybody" – and guard Daryn Colledge said something similar, pointing out a running back missed one pickup and Kolb owned up to "some of them" after the game.
"It's going to be on everybody but we on the offensive line will take the weight of that," Colledge said. "We have big enough shoulders.
"We're kind of quiet soldiers. When things are going good it's about the skill guys. When it goes bad, it's on us and we know that and that's what we signed up for. That's what we get paid to do. That's our job."
Whisenhunt emphasized a couple of times the offensive line was the only issue that hurt the Cardinals against the Rams. The punt rush offside by Alfonso Smith that killed field position at the end of the first half, misplays by receivers, and general technique and positioning issues all ultimately cost the Cards. Even some play calls were replayed in his head as "I spent all night thinking about things that we could have done differently that would have made a difference."
Yet Whisenhunt doesn't want to overlook the overarching theme, which is the 4-1 record.
"If anyone had said, 'Would you take 4-1 after the first five games,' raise your hand if you wouldn't have taken that," Whisenhunt said. "I'm not going to ignore we have things to work on and get better at. From what I've seen from this team, when they are challenged to do that, they have responded. That's what I expect to happen."
That will be the message when the Cardinals come back Monday for practice. Panicking won't be part of the equation.
"(Coach Whisenhunt) has been in the business long enough and he has been successful in this business," Doucet said. "We're going to follow his lead. He knows how to treat his players, and we've got each other's back, which is important when times are bad. We're following his lead, and he'll lead us in the right direction."