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These Days, Cardinals Believe

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Veteran defenders (from left to right) Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby and Adrian Wilson are part of the reason the Cardinals believe they can win these days.

Bill Lewis was around the last time the Cardinals were 2-0.

The Cards' current manager of alumni relations was the starting center on that 1991 team. And while he hears the constant mentions that the 2008 Cardinals are 2-0 for the first time since his squad, Lewis is blunt in saying the comparisons end there.

"(2-0 starts) aren't created equal," Lewis said. "You know when you take the field if you have a team that can overcome adversity, overcome mistakes. You know if you have the people on the team to do it. I think, to a man, the guys in that (1991) locker room felt the only way we were going to win was if things went perfectly."

Things are much different in Tempe these days.

While coach Ken Whisenhunt and his staff – and his players, for that matter –

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have taken great pains to reel in emotions of two wins to open the season, the underlying current in the locker room is one of confidence. Unlike the 1991 team, there is a belief the Cards don't necessarily have to be perfect to win – they just need to play well.

"It's not, 'Thank God we're 2-0,' " wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "It's something we all expected around here. It's something that has grown and developed, especially the way the season ended last year and working through the offseason. It is progress."

That confidence is crucial. In 2002, the Cardinals were feeling good about starting 4-2, knocking off Dallas for the fourth win. But there were red flags – despite playing a bad Cowboys team at home and getting three Adrian Wilson interceptions of the woeful Quincy Carter, the Cards still needed overtime to win, 9-6 – and a fragile season soon dissolved into a 5-11 finish.

"When we are on our game and when we are playing like the way we know we can be playing, we know we can be pretty good," Wilson said. "Everyone in this locker room believes that.

"The difference between '91 and 2002 (and now) is the talent level. It wasn't here before. I was here in 2002. A lot of times, it's not how you start, it is how you finish. That's why we are always saying we take it one game at a time, one practice at a time. Eventually, that'll get us where we want to be."

The Cardinals only need to look at one of their 2007 opponents as a cautionary tale. The Detroit Lions were 6-2 when they visited University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cards battered the Lions that day, sparking a six-game losing streak.

The 1991 Cardinals were a mirage in many ways. Starting quarterback Timm Rosenbach blew out his knew just before the season began on a non-contact play, forcing backup (and punter) Tom Tupa into the lineup. Once teams saw they could stop the run and stop the offense, the Cards were in trouble.

In an interesting twist, the last time the Cards started 2-0, their chance at 3-0 came in an away game at Washington – just like the 2008 Cards. The 1991 Cardinals were beat up in a 34-0 loss.

Then again, not all 2-0 teams are created equal. The 2008 Cardinals are in a different place.

"The Cardinals have never had this much talent on their team," Lewis said. "And they've never had this attitude."

CARDS BRING IN MOATS

It's only for the practice squad, but the Cardinals have signed former Eagles running back Ryan Moats to their practice squad. At 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds, Moats – who spent all of 2007 shelved because of an ankle injury – is similar in stature to fellow running back J.J. Arrington (5-9, 212). Moats is also a guy the Cards have had their eye on for a while.

SOME NUMBERS

The Cardinals are the only team in the NFL who has not yet turned the ball over – the first time since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 the franchise has accomplished the feat through the first two games of the season.

Whisenhunt, who has 10 wins as Cardinals' coach (in 18 games), has reached double-digits in wins faster than any coach since Charley Winner in 1966-67. It took Winner 17 games.

Quarterback Kurt Warner has a 31-3 record in his career when he posts a passing rating of at least 100.

The 23 points the Cardinals have surrendered in the first two games is the lowest total through two games since the Cards gave up 20 in the first two games of the 1977 season.

The last three onside kicks attempted by Cardinals' opponents have been recovered by Larry Fitzgerald.


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 9/16/08.

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