Cardinals need to keep perspective

When you whiff in your first three games while scoring one offensive touchdown, it takes only the slightest sign of success to turn gloom to giddiness. The challenge for the Cardinals, then, as they host Carolina on Sunday after ending their suffering with a rout of San Francisco in Mexico City, is keeping it in perspective.

First, San Francisco isn't very good.

Although it was exciting for the Cardinals to score 31 points, it doesn't take an astute NFL personnel guru to understand that the matchups were very favorable against a weak opponent playing a makeshift secondary. The Cardinals also were playing a makeshift secondary because of injuries, but the 49ers wideouts aren't the greatest, and Arizona's deficiencies in the secondary were mitigated by a fearsome pass rush by Bertrand Berry, Chike Okeafor and Ross Kolodziej.

The Cardinals appropriately celebrated the moment, but now must move past it. Dealing with the glow of a victory is a new experience.

"I think we just feel better about playing a better game," said coach Dennis Green. "That's really the key. We are glad we are playing better and we hope to duplicate the style of play that we think is more indicative of the type of team we can be."

Having backup quarterback Josh McCown gunning the ball to Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald (where was Bryant Johnson?) for big yardage, and finally anointing running back Marcel Shipp the starter and letting him pound away with body-punch rushes, indeed caused the unit to more closely resemble that which was expected of it.

But again, it comes with a bit of an asterisk given that San Francisco was a weakened and weaker foe.

Repeat that against the Carolina defense and then let the discussions of a Cardinals' turnaround begin.

The Cardinals will have several advantages working for them when the Panthers visit Tempe, Ariz., where the midday desert heat remains close to triple figures.

The Panthers played on Monday night and have a short week followed by a long flight into the heat.

It is a wonderful opportunity for the Cardinals to seize the momentum from the big win in Mexico, beat a high-quality opponent and then hit their bye week before returning against a beatable foe, Tennessee, at home.

But first, the task at hand: Carolina.

"They are an extremely good football team," Green said. "They are talented and very physical on defense and physical on offense, so we know we'll have our hands full.

"This is an important week for us. This needs to be a slingshot for us. These two games surrounding the bye week are important. The ability to win coming into the bye and the ability to win coming out of the bye can be a slingshot for you."

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