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The Mystery of Minnesota

Cardinals try to get back on winning track against Vikings


Wide receiver Early Doucet makes a play against the Vikings in Minnesota last season.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Early Doucet looked down and shook his head.

He couldn't find an answer as to why the Cardinals can't seem to leave the Metrodome in Minnesota with a win.

"I have no idea," Doucet said. "It's crazy. It's unbelievable that it just seems like everything goes the wrong way us the last few times we've been there.

"I think as a team you grow from those things and you try to prepare yourself as best as you can to not let those things happen again."

The last time the Cardinals won in Minnesota was 1977, five years before the Metrodome opened its pressurized doors. When the Cardinals (4-2) make their third straight trip to Minnesota on Sunday, their recent history against the Vikings (4-2) will be in the back of their minds.

But this team has a different DNA than the squad that lost to the Vikings by three in 2010 and the one that quickly fell behind last season, Doucet said. That's already been proven with an upset at New England in September.

"We're a better road team than we've been in the past from a mental standpoint being able to travel cross country, East Coast, whatever it may be, different time zone, being able to make that adjustment and still get up for the game on Sunday and start out fast," Doucet said. "That's the difference in our team now from the past times that we've been traveling and playing on the road."

This will be the first road game for quarterback John Skelton, who's replacing the injured Kevin Kolb. The men who'll be catching his passes think there'll be a seamless transition to a new quarterback.

"It's not an adjustment," wide receiver Andre Roberts said. "He just fills in the spot and we all know he can play well just like Kevin so we expect him to do that.

"We had John in the beginning of the year and we had him in camp. It's not like we're bringing somebody new in that we haven't played with."

While the competition between Skelton and Kolb in training camp attracted a bevy of headlines, it gave the team ample time to find a comfort zone with each quarterback. It also helped that Skelton began the season as the starter, giving the offense a chance to play with him in a game situation.

It's all paying off now. 

"We're all very familiar with John, we're all very familiar with Kevin," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "I don't think we're going to miss a beat. Everybody knows what John's capable of, we know what to expect. There's no difference in too many things."

Last season he watched Kolb manage the Metrodome's infamous noise. Now it's Skelton's turn to battle the fan noise and the Vikings' Gjallarhorn, a loud Norse horn played when Minnesota makes a big play.

"It's weird because you got the guys with the big old horn just playing the horn constantly," Doucet said. "It's just a different atmosphere."

Sunday could be a day of firsts.

It will be Skelton's first chance to be the first Cardinals' quarterback to get Fitzgerald, who grew up outside Minneapolis, his first win in Minnesota.

"It'll be great for our ball club to be able to go up there and be able to get back in the right column," Fitzgerald said. "This has been a struggle these last two weeks and it hasn't left a good taste in our mouth."

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