Kurt Warner & Ken Whisenhunt (Getty)
Arizona's success in the postseason has been fueled by their ability to stay grounded and focused. That focus will be challenged now by advancing to the game's biggest stage, but coach Ken Whisenhunt thinks his team can handle it, despite playing in the first Super Bowl in franchise history. Whisenhunt and several members of his staff have been here before, which will help the Cardinals prepare.
Ken Whisenhunt gave his team days off this week. The Cardinals will practice Thursday, Friday, Saturday, take Sunday off and then travel to Tampa on Monday.
The plan is to put most of the game plan in this week and then refine it next week in Tampa.
"I'm just taking it day to day," said guard Reggie Wells. "We can't overhype anything, over-emphasize anything. We just need to keep preparing the way we have been. That has been working for us up to this point, so there's no sense to change that now."
A handful of Cardinals players have been in the Super Bowl before, so they can guide their teammates.
Wide receiver Sean Morey played for the Steelers in Super Bowl XL and he remembers coach Bill Cowher's message to the team.
"He told us nobody remembers who lost the Super Bowl, and I think that resonated through all the players," Morey said. "That's already been discussed here, too, and it's important we put things in the proper perspective."
Still, perspective can be hard to find when the attention of the sporting world is on you. An hour after the game, offensive coordinator Todd Haley already had 50 text messages. Backup tight end Ben Patrick had 127.
"There is no way to even begin to respond to all of those," Patrick said.
-- The Cardinals have heard the rumors about offensive coordinator Todd Haley being in line for the Chiefs job, but they aren't putting much stock in them yet. Herm Edwards hasn't been fired, and the Chiefs can't interview Haley until after the Super Bowl.
-- The Cardinals are seven-point underdogs, marking the fourth straight playoff game in which they been picked to lose. They will play that underdog role to the hilt, and it's worked for them in the previous three games. The team also has noted every critical sound bite, such as Deion Sanders promising to sell his Super Bowl tickets if the Cardinals advanced.
"Somebody is going to have to believe sooner or later or you all are going to start looking dumb," end Antonio Smith said of media picking against the Cardinals. "It just shows how smart those analysts are. They sit up there and analyze all day long. Tell me: how often are they right?"
-- Offensive coordinator Todd Haley gave third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre a big job during last Sunday's NFC title game. St. Pierre was to tell Haley the ideal time to run "Philly Special," a pitch and pass back to Kurt Warner, who would throw long to Larry Fitzgerald. So St. Pierre "called" it in the first half, and the play ended up a 62-yard touchdown. Asked if he had a future in coaching, St. Pierre quipped: "I'd like to be a quarterback first."
-- The Cardinals are taking steps to make sure there are now lingering effects from receiver Anquan Boldin's sideline shouting match with offensive coordinator Todd Haley last week. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has met with Haley and Boldin and is confident there is no issue.
-- QB Kurt Warner has some advice for any teammates who might not relish the attention they are about to receive. Embrace it; don't fight it. "The more you get uptight with it, the less you enjoy," he said. "Embrace it. If you don't want to sign autographs, stay in your room.
"Don't let it become a burden. Understand how big of a blessing it is."
BY THE NUMBERS: 12 -- The number of Super Bowls rings owned by Ken Whisenhunt and his staff. Assistant head coach/offensive line Russ Grimm has five of them.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "At least two more weeks" -- QB Kurt Warner when asked how much longer he planned to play.