First Place a Good Start for Arizona

After suffering two losses to the San Francisco 49ers in 2007, the Arizona Cardinals had one thing on their mind when they headed to the bay area: winning. Many of Arizona's players attest missing the playoffs with the two defeats to San Francisco. Here are a few thoughts from Ken Whisenhunt, Ralph Brown, Gerald Hayes and Anquan Boldin about the 23-13 win over their division foes in week one.

Ken Whisenhunt said that Sunday's game couldn't have started better for the Cardinals situational wise, but the Cardinals didn't find their rhythm until the second half. Arizona is working on becoming a better second half team and the preparation was apparent. Kurt Warner was able to throw the ball more and his superstar target, Anquan Boldin, was able to do what he does best.

"We just made a conscious effort as a team to get me more involved," Boldin said. "I didn't have a catch in the first half, so we kind of wanted to get the offense going and get me involved."

San Francisco and Arizona headed into its perspective locker rooms at a 10-10 deadlock at the half. Post pep talk, the visiting crew emerged as the leaders in the final two quarters.

Besides the Boldin factor, the second half produced an understanding of what San Francisco was trying to do. Whisenhunt said it's hard to figure out what the other team is going to do in the first game, but after intermission the Cardinals had it down.

The Cardinals were ball hogs after the break, and the strategy worked as Arizona walked away with its first opening game victory on the road since 1999. Even with the "W," Arizona couldn't help but reflect on the losses from last season.

"All I could think about was last year in that Monday night game, where we had a similar situation and we were three-and-out, and we made a point to our offense that we've got to take the ball down there and get something out of it," Whisenhunt said. "To take that much time off the clock and then get points out of it essentially sealed the game for us."

Signed, sealed and delivered the Cardinals are in first place in the NFC West. Both the Seattle Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams were defeated in the first Sunday. The Cardinals finished at even .500 last season and are enjoying the redemption win.

"It's a good win for us because it's our division, it's a conference game and the first game of the season," linebacker Gerald Hayes said.

Comparing this year's 49ers to last season's is difficult for most of the Cardinals, but they never take the matchup with San Francisco lightly.

"It's hard to make a comparison, but we were the better team out there today," Hayes said. "Every year we come and they play us hard and we play them hard. I am sure they will try to come out and beat us later in the season, but today we were the better team and it's a great place for us to be."

On top is a nice view, but the losses from last year are still reeling.

"Going into the game we just tried to focus on getting better from the preseason and playing as a team," cornerback Ralph Brown said. "Last year they beat us twice, they didn't have a good record, but they beat us twice, so we wanted to make sure we came here and got started on the right foot. Today everyone played together, offense, defense and special teams did their job and because of it we won the game."

The Cardinals will see the 49ers again in November, for now they are relishing the victory.

"It's a good start, a road victory [against] a division opponent," Boldin said. "It was a good win for us. We wanted to kill two birds with one stone. We were able to do that today. Once Wednesday comes we want to put this win behind us and get ready for Miami."

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