Can Kurt Warner turn around the Cardinals?
The refrain was familiar. In fact, the Cardinals comments following their 47-7 loss to the Patriots on Sunday were almost identical to the ones they made after losing to the Vikings, 35-14, the week before: We have to find some motivation. We have to look in the mirror. We need momentum heading into the playoffs.
The Cardinals are saying all the right things, but they seem incapable, or unwilling, to do much about it.
They've lost four of their past five to drop from 7-3 to 8-7. In their past three losses, they've been outscored 83-7 in the first half.
"I don't understand it," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "It's disappointing and it's not acceptable. This time of year, you're supposed to be playing better football than that. We've got to find that team that can play with anybody in the league."
That team disappeared weeks ago. The Cardinals have lost five straight to teams with winning records. What's worse, they weren't competitive in many of those games.
"When we lose, we lose big, we lose bad and it's ugly," said defensive tackle Bryan Robinson. "It's embarrassing and everybody -- everybody -- shares a little bit of that."
He's right. The offense was horrible. The defense hasn't stopped anyone for three weeks. The Patriots scored on nine of their first 10 possessions and had 514 yards of offense.
The special teams, well, they got a workout. Steve Breaston tied a franchise record with nine kickoff returns. Punter Ben Graham did fairly well in tough conditions. Kicker Neil Rackers continues to impress with his kickoffs.
But when those are the highlights for an entire team, you know the club is in trouble.
Quarterback Kurt Warner was asked if the team's confidence was shaken.
"When put a couple of performances together like we have the last couple weeks," he said, "you definitely don't feel invincible, that's for sure."
--Sunday's game in New England was the first time the Cardinals played in snow since the final game of the 1983 season. They beat the Eagles in St. Louis, and it was offensive lineman Dan Dierdorf's last game. The Cardinals didn't use the weather as an excuse for their 47-7 loss.
"We can make up the excuses, it was the elements or it was this, or it was that," said defensive tackle Bryan Robinson. "But New England had to play in the same elements. So that's not a good excuse."
--Quarterback Matt Leinart played more last Sunday than he has all season. In two previous appearances, Leinart had thrown seven passes. He entered Sunday's game late in the third quarter and played the fourth. He completed six of 14 passes for 138 yards, most of which came on a 78-yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald.
Leinart also lost a fumble and had an interception. He had difficulty with his radio helmet upon entering the game. All he could hear was loud static and it wouldn't shut off.
"It was like I had earphones on, listening to music really loud."
--The Patriots won the opening coin toss and deferred. Then they stuffed the Cardinals, and a good punt return gave them possession at the Arizona 33. They scored and stayed in Cardinals territory most of the day.
"It seemed like we were on their half of the field all day," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "It was a combination of kickoff coverage, defense, punt returns and then the offense taking advantage."
--Coach Ken Whisenhunt was ready to defer if the Cardinals won the toss.
"We talked about this, especially in a 'weather' game like this, that field position was going to be important," Whisenhunt said. "We can't just be that fragile of a team that we can't recover from that. We need to find a way to stop them, too."
--The Cardinals have lost four of five and are in danger of winning the division with an 8-8 record. If they beat Seattle, they will finish 9-7. That would tie for their best record since moving to Arizona in 1988. Their only other winning season came in 1998, when they were also 9-7.
--The Cardinals have managed to remove the excitement of winning their first division title in 33 years. They are crawling, not limping, into the playoffs. If they don't get better, said defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, the Cardinals are going to be "one and done" in the playoffs."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--DE/OLB Travis LaBoy likely will be questionable for the regular-season finale against the Seahawks. He has a sprained ankle.
--OLB Clark Haggans has been placed on injured reserve with a sprained left foot.
--WR Anquan Boldin should be able to return this week after missing the Patriots game with a sore shoulder. Boldin was in some pain and had swelling last week.
--SS Matt Ware has a calf injury and is on crutches. His status won't be known until later in the week.
--S Aaron Francisco suffered a rib injury against the Patriots and his status won't be determined until later in the week.
--TE Stephen Spach suffered a sprained ankle against the Patriots and his status won't be determined until later in the week.
--CB Rod Hood suffered a knee injury against the Patriots but appeared to moving around well after the game. His status won't be known until later in the week.
--WR Larry Fitzgerald caught just three passes but one of them was a 78-yard touchdown pass from Matt Leinart. Fitzgerald finished with 101 yards in receiving.