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  • Rams hope to end season with a win over Cardinals

    Arizona won earlier meeting
    BY STEVE KORTE
    News-Democrat

    It's a merciful ending to disappointing and injury-riddled seasons for both the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals.

    Yet Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said he was looking forward to his team's season-ending matchup against the Cardinals at 3:15 p.m. today at University of Phoenix Stadium.

    "I am looking to have fun," Bulger said. "It doesn't mean anything as far as playoffs and all that, but anytime you go out there, you enjoy yourself and you remember the times when you weren't on a team, or that people are in hospitals or in different countries or Iraq. I mean, just be thankful."

    Bulger said he had time to reflect on his blessings as the Rams had a sort of Christmas break with three of the next four days off after their 41-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 20.

    "You get family in, and they tell you about their problems, so maybe your problems aren't that bad," Bugler said. "I had a friend whose mother had to go into the hospital yesterday with something life-threatening out of the blue. Things can happen. When you are in the day-to-day grind, you don't realize it.

    "But getting those couple days off, you don't shut down football and think that it is not important anymore, but you kind of do put it into perspective a little bit."

    With a 3-12 record, the Rams need a win just to tie their 1998 squad for the worst record since the franchise moved to St. Louis in 1995.

    Rams coach Scott Linehan, who was given a vote of confidence from team President John Shaw a couple of weeks ago, wants to end the season with a win before beginning what figures to be a busy offseason.

    "You want to finish what you start, and have a good last game regardless," Linehan said. "We're playing a division opponent on the road. It would be nice for us to be able to go there and perform well and go away with a victory."

    The Cardinals are 7-8 and hoping to post their best record since 1998 and their third nonlosing season since 1984 by finishing at .500.

    Arizona has dealt with the loss of quarterback Matt Leinart to a season-ending collar bone injury during a 34-31 win over the Rams on Oct. 7 at the Edward Jones Dome and the loss of strong safety Adrian Wilson to a season-ending heel injury a few weeks later.

    Former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner has assumed a full-time role since Leinart's injury. The Arizona Republic reported this week that Warner could earn as much as $1.5 million in incentive bonuses if he plays well against the Rams.

    Bulger said he consulted Warner earlier this month when he was deciding whether it was safe for him to play after suffering a concussion.

    "A lot of times you can get pressured in this business to be out on the field too soon (because) your team needs you," Warner said. "At the same time, you have the competitiveness that says, 'I want to be out there if at all possible.' Sometimes you need somebody else who's been in that situation or somebody else that's outside the situation to give you the right advice and to make sure that you understand the risk.

    "That's really what we talked about. 'What's most important? How are you feeling? Let's make sure this is the best decision for you to make. If it's not, life's too short.' That was really our conversation."

    The Cardinals have one of the better home records in the NFC with a 5-2 mark at University of Phoenix Stadium, which will be the site of Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3.

    "I think we're a missed overtime field goal away from being 6-1 (at home), so I feel like that's important," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I believe that having home field advantage is something that makes it much easier for your record to be better.

    "Our fans have been very supportive. They've been very good and made it a difficult place to play for teams coming in."

    The Cardinals' defense has given up 421 yards to New Orleans and 405 yards to Atlanta in the last two games.

    Whisenhunt is concerned how his defense will hold up against a Rams offense that has gotten healthier late in the season.

    "Their quarterback and their running back didn't play against us last time, and they moved the ball on us pretty well in that game," Whisenhunt said. "In watching their last couple of games, they're doing a lot of things very well offensively. We have hit a little bit of a lull defensively, so it's going to be quite a challenge for our defense."

    Cardinals wide receivers Anquan Boldin (toe) and Larry Fitzgerald (groin) are questionable for the game. So is Cardinals long snapper Nathan Hodel, a Belleville East High School graduate who has an ankle injury.

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  • RamWraith
    Former St. Louis football Cardinals can clinch title -- against St. Louis Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Thursday, Dec. 04 2008
    For Bill Bidwill's football franchise, moments like this appear with the
    frequency of Halley's comet. But a victory Sunday by Bidwill's Arizona
    Cardinals clinches the franchise's first home playoff game since Harry S.
    Truman was president.

    One must go back to Dec. 28, 1947, when the Chicago Cardinals defeated
    Philadelphia 28-21 in the NFL championship game at Comiskey Park, to find the
    one and only Cardinals home playoff game.

    That's not the only long playoff drought that's about to end for the team known
    as the Big Red during its 28-season stay in St. Louis.

    — The Cardinals haven't appeared in a playoff game since 1998, the longest
    active playoff drought in the league.

    — They haven't won a division title since 1975, when coach Don Coryell's St.
    Louis Cardinals went 11-3 in the regular season.

    Jim Hanifan, current Rams radio analyst, was offensive line coach for that '75
    team, which featured three Hall of Famers (offensive tackle Dan Dierdorf, tight
    end Jackie Smith and cornerback Roger Wehrli).

    The thunder-and-lightning backfield consisted of Jim Otis and Terry Metcalf.
    Mel Gray was the deep threat at wide receiver, with Jim Hart at quarterback.
    The offensive line yielded only eight sacks, which was an NFL record until the
    1988 Miami Dolphins allowed only seven. Jim Bakken was the clutch place-kicker
    for a team known as the Cardiac Cards: five of their 11 victories came by a
    touchdown or less.

    "It was a fun team and it had a tremendous attitude about itself," Hanifan
    said. "They felt, as time went on in that season, that they would not ever be
    denied. That they were going to win every game."

    But back then, only four teams made the playoffs in each conference, so winning
    your division didn't guarantee a home game. Alas, the Cardinals were the No. 3
    seed and lost their first-round game at Los Angeles against the Rams 35-23.

    Between 1974-76, the Cardinals went 31-11. That was the best it would get for
    pro football in St. Louis until a group known as the Greatest Show on Turf
    arrived in town a quarter-century later.

    But back then, in the mid '70s, "I thought we were going to continue on,"
    Hanifan recalled. "We had a great nucleus of football players."

    The success didn't last, nor did the Cardinals in St. Louis. The franchise
    moved to the Phoenix area after the 1987 season, where the best record it could
    manage was a 9-7 wild-card finish in '98.

    But that's all about to change. If the heavily favored Cardinals (7-5) defeat
    the Rams (2-10) Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, they...
    -12-04-2008, 06:37 AM
  • Nick
    Arizona looks like (gulp) playoff contender
    by Nick
    Arizona looks like (gulp) playoff contender
    By Scott Bordow, Tribune Columnist

    EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE (Mesa, Ariz.) Where's the key? Oh, there it is. Top row, right-hand corner.
    I've used the letter P before when writing about the Cardinals. But usually I have to buy a vowel after hitting it.
    Pathetic. Putrid. Pitiful.

    Playoffs?

    Yeah, way back in 1998, when Jake Plummer was still the darling of Arizona sports fans.

    Since then, however, I've avoided the wishful thinking that comes with a Cardinals victory.

    If they can win next week they'll be right back in it. Look at their schedule.
    They can win those games.

    Then, of course, Arizona loses that winnable game, and the elevator lands with a thud. Or, to put it in football vernacular, the Cardinals 49er it. So, with full awareness of how fragile the limb is that I'm climbing on, I hereby proclaim that the Cardinals are — oh, goodness, am I really saying it? — playoff contenders.

    Someone get me a drink to calm my nerves.

    Yes, it sounds crazy. Arizona is 4-5 after its 17-14 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday. That's not playoff material. That's a Las Vegas lounge act.

    But in the low tide pool that's the NFC, the Cardinals can spread their wings and take flight to parts unknown.

    Arizona is one game out of the final wild card spot. More amazingly, it's just one game out of the lead in the NFC Worst, er, West.

    If the Cardinals can beat 2-7 Carolina this Sunday, they'll be a .500 team and . . .

    Hey, Bordow, didn't you read what you wrote a few paragraphs up? Quit dreaming. These are the Cardinals.

    Yeah, I know that.

    But at some point, we have to acknowledge coach Dennis Green is onto something.

    The Cardinals have gone 4-2 since starting the season 0-3.

    They're 3-1 at Sun Devil Stadium and have won three straight at home for the first time since 1999.

    Of their final seven opponents, only three — the New York Jets, St. Louis and Seattle — have winning records.

    It's enough to make an overgrown man get too big for his britches.

    “Winning two straight games is nothing to get excited about,” said nose tackle Russell Davis. “We'll look back on that after our playoff game and say that's
    where the streak got started.”

    OK, this may be a good time for a few rational thoughts:

    - The Cardinals are 4-5, not 6-3. Who isn't 4-5 in the NFL?

    - Had Arizona not successfully navigated the game-winning, fourth-quarter drive in Miami last week, we'd already have written its obituary.

    - The Cardinals were 4-2 in 2002 and 6-6 in 1999. They finished 5-11 and 6-10, respectively.

    “Man, anything can happen,” said tackle...
    -11-16-2004, 08:38 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Cardinals] Cards feeling defeated
    by DJRamFan
    4-9 record takes its toll on Green

    Tim Tyers
    The Arizona Republic
    Dec. 14, 2004 12:00 AM

    The demeanor of Cardinals coach Dennis Green on Monday was that of a man ready to cut loose with a refrain from an old country song: "You ripped my heart out and stomped that sucker flat."

    The man who predicted a winning season and possible playoff berth upon his arrival had nothing good to say about his four-win team, or the way the season has transpired during his first season with the Cardinals.

    San Francisco, with only two wins, is considered the worst team in pro football. But both of its wins have come against the Cardinals, including Sunday's 31-28 win in overtime, so where does that leave the Cardinals? advertisement




    Emmitt Smith, the NFL's career rushing leader, said after Sunday's loss that the team is making elementary mistakes and insinuated that some of the problem is coaching.

    "You know," Green said, "everybody has their own opinion. I will reserve mine."

    To his credit, Green didn't dodge the issue when asked if he was worried about losing the attention of his team.

    "Absolutely," he said. "You worry about losing everybody. I don't think (owner) Mr. Bill Bidwill is very happy right now. I don't think he counted on hiring a new coach and having the new coach be 4-9. It's everybody. I don't think the fans counted on being 4-9. I know I didn't count on being 4-9 . . .

    "There is a chance to lose everybody when you get into a situation where you are not winning . . . "

    Green took on a huge task when he came to Arizona in January to rebuild the franchise. Yet, Sunday's loss guaranteed the Cardinals their 15th losing season in the past 17 years. The question now is, how much progress has been made?

    "I would hope to say a lot of things are better, but you know . . . sometimes we are in a bottom line business. In fact, most of the time we are.

    "We only had 35,000 people there (Sunday). That's not a very big crowd, not a lot of people for the fifth-largest city in America. That's not a lot of people who want to come and watch you play in your stadium."

    In Sunday's game there were five major errors on special teams, the offense didn't report for duty until the second half and Arizona's gambling defense was once again porous against the run. Nondescript Maurice Hicks, an undrafted free agent, not only became the eighth rusher to top 100 yards against Arizona, but his 139 yards came within 5 yards of matching his season total entering the game.

    Green said the Cardinals are not physical enough at the point of attack against the run. They've tried to offset that with blitzes, but sometimes the formation takes away the blitz and the lack of physicality...
    -12-14-2004, 11:30 AM
  • RamWraith
    'It hurts if you just quit'
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/30/2007

    GLENDALE, ARIZ. — The fans are mad, the players are frustrated and the head coach is under fire. Mercifully, the nightmare that is Rams football 2007 comes to an end Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

    "What are we — 3-12?" wide receiver Torry Holt said. "That's not good, man. Especially coming off a season last year where we were 8-8. We finished on a good note, so you come back (from) the offseason with much promise. You bring in guys, add guys, and that gives you that much more promise."

    And then you lose your first eight games.

    "To start out the way we did, and to see things just become a domino effect to where we are now, it's disheartening," Holt said. "It's disappointing, especially if you're a winner. If you're a competitor, and you like to win, and you've had some taste of success, it can be draining."

    In a season that long ago went down the drain, a victory is needed Sunday to avoid becoming the worst Rams team since the move to St. Louis in 1995. At the moment, the standard bearers for ineptitude are the '98 Rams, who finished 4-12 under Dick Vermeil.

    In 70 years of Rams football, only six teams have finished a season with three or fewer victories — most recently, the 3-13 Los Angeles Rams of 1991. That's a neighborhood the '07 Rams want to avoid.

    So a victory over the Big Red "can kind of end some of that sourness that's in our mouths," Holt said.

    "We're going with the intention of winning the football game and basically setting our goals for 2008," coach Scott Linehan said Friday. "At the end of the game, we're going to be focused on that right away. We want them to be very lofty, and very have high standards for our goals."

    Victories haven't come easy for the Rams this season, and beating the Cardinals in their suburban Phoenix home will be easier said than done. The Cardinals are developing a home-field edge in the building now known as University of Phoenix Stadium.

    Sunday's game marks the 20th consecutive sellout since the stadium opened in 2006 — a total that includes regular-season and preseason games. The Cardinals are 5-2 at home this season, and a victory Sunday would give them their best home record since the franchise moved to the Valley of the Sun from St. Louis in 1988.

    Although eliminated from the playoffs, Arizona (7-Cool does have a chance to finish at .500 (or better) for only the third time in 20 seasons in the desert. Additionally, the Cardinals are trying to sweep the season series with St. Louis for the first time since realignment put both teams in the NFC West in 2002.

    So the Cardinals seemingly have much more to play for than the Rams. But Rams players insisted over the course of the practice week that...
    -12-29-2007, 10:35 PM
  • RamWraith
    Big Red's new role: favorites
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Oct. 07 2007

    St. Louis' football past (the Cardinals) meets its football present (the Rams)
    for the 13th time Sunday. But this contest has a feel unlike any of its 12
    predecessors.

    Look no further than the ceiling of the Arizona locker room for proof. When the
    Cardinals showed up for work this week, they saw two mousetraps — one painted
    Rams gold, the other painted Rams blue.

    It was Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt's not-so-subtle reminder that this is a
    trap game for his squad. That's right, he doesn't want the Big Red to take St.
    Louis lightly. Imagine that.

    "People tell me about the Pittsburgh game, but I tell people all the time, it
    don't mean anything if you go out there and lose to 0-4 St. Louis," Cardinals
    defensive end Darnell Dockett told reporters in the Valley of the Sun.

    Bill Bidwill's Gridbirds are riding high after last week's 21-14 upset victory
    over previously unbeaten Pittsburgh. Perhaps that was a revenge game for
    Whisenhunt, a former Steelers assistant who was passed over as a potential
    successor to Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh.

    Who knows? Whisenhunt might want to make another statement Sunday to Rams
    management. Namely: You should've waited for me.

    Rams president John Shaw was very interested in Whisenhunt as a head-coaching
    candidate after firing Mike Martz at the end of the 2005 season.

    "They actually were going to come into Pittsburgh (for an interview), but we
    were in the midst of the playoffs, so I didn't get a chance to meet with them
    individually," Whisenhunt said in a conference call with St. Louis reporters.

    Instead, Whisenhunt did a phone interview with the Rams, which he thought went
    well. But the Steelers kept winning in the postseason, all the way through
    Pittsburgh's Super Bowl XL victory over Seattle. The Rams couldn't afford to
    wait for Whisenhunt to finish his playoff run as Steelers offensive
    coordinator. So on Jan. 19, 2006, or nearly 2½ weeks before Super Bowl XL,
    Scott Linehan was hired to replace Martz.

    But back to the present. On a high after the victory over Pittsburgh, the
    Cardinals (2-2) come to town Sunday as favorites. For only the second time in
    the 13 St. Louis Rams-Arizona Cardinals games, the Big Red enter the contest
    with a better record.

    The Rams are searching for answer, as well as points and healthy bodies. They
    have gone 11 quarters and 31 possessions without scoring an offensive
    touchdown. Four offensive starters will miss Sunday's game because of injuries.
    A fifth, quarterback Marc Bulger, has been benched in favor of Gus Frerotte to
    rest his broken ribs.

    ...
    -10-07-2007, 10:56 AM
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