No Place Like Home For the Cardinals

The hope created by the Cardinals' 2-0 start was dashed by continued disappointments on the road, no matter what lengths the club takes to correct the problem. Two consecutive losses -- at Washington and at the Jets -- have left the Cardinals with a .500 record, with two difficult home games ahead against Buffalo and Dallas.

The Cardinals could have set themselves up nicely by beating either the Redskins or Jets. Since moving to Arizona in 1988, they have never finished the first month of the season better than 2-2. Now, that record remains intact.

The Cardinals are a much better team at home, winning seven of nine there under coach Ken Whisenhunt. That trend must continue if they are going to contend for the NFC West title.

Ultimately, however, the Cardinals need to prove they are mature enough to win on the road. Away from home, the team tends to make mistakes at inopportune times, stall offensively and wear down on defense. With road games ahead against Carolina, Seattle, Philadelphia and New England, the Cardinals had better find answers quick.

They tried something new in preparation for the Jets, staying over in Northern Virginia after the Washington game. Whisenhunt hoped his team would be fresher if it avoided the long plane ride back and forth, as well as the three-hour time difference.

Whisenhunt cited youth as one reason the Cardinals have struggled on the road, but this Cardinals team is a veteran club that should know better. Quarterback Kurt Warner said it's a matter of approaching the job professionally.

"You have to be able to eliminate distractions and execute on the football and we didn't do that," he said. "It has nothing to do with traveling or not traveling, or coming in late or being tired. That stuff doesn't matter. You have to figure out a way to execute and for three hours put all that stuff behind you."

It doesn't help that the Cardinals could be playing this week without three key players. Defensive end Bertrand Berry is out for a few more weeks with a torn groin. Strong safety Adrian Wilson missed last week's game with a hamstring strain.

And Anquan Boldin could miss time after taking a scary hit to the head late in the game against the Jets. Tests were negative but it would be surprising if Boldin is able to play this week against Buffalo.

This Cardinals team is supposed to be much deeper than in past years, especially on defense. But they have yet to prove it.

The Cardinals can make people forget their road problems if they beat the Bills and Cowboys before entering their bye week. But that's a difficult task, considering the way the Cardinals are playing.

"I'm ready to get home, man," said cornerback Eric Green. "It hasn't been a good two weeks. We got to go home and we got to get our heads together."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There are still 12 games left in the season. We are going to go and make the corrections we need to make. I'm pretty such everyone can be criticized on this film and I mean everyone." -- Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle.

LINEUP WATCH: Wide receiver Steve Breaston is likely going to take center stage now that Anquan Boldin is injured. Breaston, in his second year, has made great strides as a receiver, but he's never been higher than a No. 3 wideout. He needs to produce in that situation, because it would be surprising if Boldin doesn't miss at least a week or two, considering the hit he took against the Jets.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--LT Levi Brown struggled in pass protection against the Jets, giving up a sack to Calvin Pace, who caused Kurt Warner to fumble. Brown had been playing fairly well but he needs to be more consistent.

--OLB Chike Okeafor intercepted a pass against the Jets, the second interception of his career. Pass coverage is not a strength for Okeafor, a converted defensive end.

--CB Eric Green suffered a right knee sprain in the first half but returned to play in the game. Green, however, could miss some time. If so, rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will start.

--QB Kurt Warner committed six turnovers against the Jets, three fumbles and three interceptions. Coach Ken Whisenhunt blamed poor pass protection for most of Warner's turnovers.

--WR Anquan Boldin had 10 catches for 119 yards and a touchdown against the Jets before suffering a head and neck injury.


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