Arizona faces Seattle, looks to reverse home woes

Nov 14, 2009 - 5:02 AM By BOB BAUM AP Sports Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz.(AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals have had a home-field disadvantage, winning only once in four tries.

Seattle has lost all three of its road games by a combined score of 95-44.

Something has to give when the NFC West foes meet in the desert on Sunday.

The Cardinals (5-3) look to finally give their fans something to cheer about. The Seahawks (3-5) see a vital opportunity to salvage a season.

"It needs to be known that this game is way more important, because of how we shot ourselves in the foot earlier in the season," Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said.

Among the road victories for Arizona was a dominant 27-3 triumph in Seattle on Oct. 18. It was a dismal performance for the Seahawks, who managed just 128 total yards, including a franchise-low 14 on the ground. Seattle was 0 for 11 on third downs.

"We got after Seattle that first game," Cardinals nose tackle Bryan Robinson said, "and I'm pretty sure they want to make amends for what happened the first time around."

Thanks to an unlikely 4-0 road record, Arizona has built a two-game lead in the NFC West, despite what wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald calls "a roller-coaster ride" through the first half of the season.

It's still a tenuous spot. Despite all of its troubles, Seattle could pull within a game of the Cardinals with a victory.

Arizona is coming off perhaps its best game of the season, a 41-21 victory over the Bears in Chicago. But just two weeks ago, Carolina ran all over the Cardinals for a 31-21 victory in Glendale.

Arizona had developed a raucous, supportive environment, going 14-4 at home in coach Ken Whisenhunt's first two seasons with the Cardinals. Yet the cheers often turned to boos this season as the Cardinals lost at home to San Francisco, Indianapolis and Carolina.

Arizona needed a three-play goal-line stand for its only home win, 28-21 over Houston on Oct. 11.

Turnovers have played a big role. The Cardinals have 12 of them at home, compared with three by the opposition.

"I certainly don't think it's our preparation or how we have been working in practice. It's about making mistakes at the wrong time," Whisenhunt said. "Maybe that is a little bit of feeling too comfortable at home. Hopefully, that is something we won't do this week. I think that Carolina was obviously a hard, bitter pill for us to swallow. All you can do is hope we learned from that."

The same Arizona defense that limited Seattle to 14 yards rushing was shredded for 270 on the ground by Carolina. Yet the Cardinals regrouped in Chicago, scoring on their first six possessions, something they have not done since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

It's that maddening inconsistency that has prevented Arizona from being mentioned among the NFL's elite, quarterback Kurt Warner said.

"You have to win those games that you are supposed to win or have opportunities to win," he said. "I think that is what's separating us right now from that top-tier group."

The Seahawks are much healthier than they were the last time they met the Cardinals. Seattle started the same offensive line for the second game in a row in last week's come-from-behind 32-20 victory over Detroit. Standout cornerback Marcus Trufant, who missed the first six games with back problems, got his first interception of the season against the Lions.

The Cardinals are showing signs of a running game, which would make Arizona's powerful passing game even more effective. The Cardinals got 182 yards rushing against the Bears. Tim Hightower gained 77 yards in 15 carries and rookie Beanie Wells had 72 in 13 attempts.

Warner tied a career best with five touchdown passes at Chicago, one week after he threw five interceptions against Carolina. The 38-year-old quarterback will be making his 40th consecutive start and should have his full fleet of receivers, including often-disgruntled Anquan Boldin, who much to his dismay sat out the Bears game because of a sprained ankle.

Seattle wants to pressure the quarterback, but Seahawks coach Jim Mora said it will be a challenge because the Cardinals' offensive line does a good job protecting Warner and he makes good decisions in the pocket.

"He is as smart a quarterback as there is in the league," Mora said. "He is a great decision maker and throws with accuracy. He knows where to go with the ball quickly. He has receivers he has great confidence in. ... It is tough to get pressure on this team. You still have to attempt it."

Hasselbeck had Warner-like numbers last week, completing a franchise-record 39 passes in 51 attempts for 329 yards as the Seahawks rallied from an early 17-0 deficit to beat the Lions. No wonder the quarterback had a sore shoulder.

He sat out Wednesday's practice but worked out on Thursday and will play on Sunday.

"We've got a game here we've basically got to win," he said. "I mean, we know that this one is very important."

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