Cardinals Losing Against Winning Teams

With a division title secured, the Cardinals are in pursuit of motivation for the final weeks of the season. They certainly didn't seem interested in competing last Sunday against the Vikings, losing 35-14 at home. The Cardinals clinched the NFC West title the week before and supposedly were interested in improving their playoff seeding.

But on Sunday, they looked like a team that was a product of a weak division. Like the Vikings, the Cardinals were 8-5 entering the game, but that's where the similarities ended.

The Vikings can run the ball and they can rush the passer. The Cardinals are having a hard time doing either one.

More ominous, the Cardinals don't seem much interested in finishing strong. They've lost three of their past four overall and they've lost their past four games against teams with winning records.

The Cardinals don't have a victory over a winning team since beating Dallas on Oct. 12.

"I just know one thing," said defensive end Darnell Dockett. "We better get our (expletive) together. If we want to make a run in the playoffs and make some noise, we better get better."

The Cardinals will be tested again Sunday by the Patriots, who haven't clinched a playoff bid.

"I think we're aware of the fact that we've clinched and that playoff game is the one that's most important," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We've wanted to improve our seed. You try to make that your motivation. I think now our motivation becomes playing better football. You don't want to go in (the playoffs) losing football games. But more important, you don't want to go in not playing your best football."

NOTES, QUOTES

--RT Levi Brown struggled in pass protection against the Vikings and had a difficult time getting off the field, too. As he left the field, Brown stopped to give a kid some gloves. He slipped on a metal-like surface on the sideline and ended up flat on his back. Brown wasn't hurt.

--The Cardinals knew Adrian Peterson was good, and he affirmed that opinion with is performance on Sunday. "If my son decided to play offense, I'd tell him to watch Adrian Peterson tape," said strong safety Adrian Wilson.

--The Cardinals are 5-0 in the NFC West and 3-6 against everyone else. They also have lost three of their past four and haven't beaten a team with a winning record since Dallas on Oct. 12.

--Cornerback Rod Hood had a tough day, giving up three touchdown passes. He had good position on two of them but couldn't knock the ball away. He was upset with himself for giving up a 41-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-15 situation.

"I have to be smarter than that and not press. Just play off, make them check the ball down," Hood said.

--There were a good number of Vikings fans in attendance Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, and they made a lot of noise. "I felt like it was a home game or a neutral stadium," said Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

--The 21-point loss was the Cardinals' worst in three seasons at University of Phoenix Stadium.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--DE/OLB Travis LaBoy suffered an ankle injury against Minnesota and his status for Sunday's game against the Patriots is unknown.

--OLB Clark Haggans likely is out for the season with a foot injury. He didn't play last week and is consulting a specialist.

--CB Eric Green was inactive for the second straight game.

--RB Edgerrin James was on the active roster but didn't play. That's the third time that's happened this season.

--WR Anquan Boldin dropped a key pass on third down and lost a fumble. Boldin has made key drops or fumbles in the club's three blowout losses this year: to the Jets, Eagles and Vikings.

--QB Kurt Warner was sacked four times by the Vikings and hit on 11 other occasions.

--CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is making big plays almost weekly. A week ago, he returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown. Against the Vikings, he blocked a field goal that was returned for a score.


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