Cards ready to refocus after enjoying big win
TEMPE, Ariz. – The Cardinals had a long flight home Sunday from Providence, R.I., where they stayed before their game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. But long did not mean monotonous. The Cards were in a good mood after posting what is likely the biggest regular-season road win in the Ken Whisenhunt era.
“It wasn’t like we had just won the Super Bowl,” Whisenhunt said of the club’s nail-biting, 20-18 win. “But I think they were proud of what they’d done. The significance of winning a game in New England, it sunk in a little bit after the game, but they seemed like they were putting it behind them and moving on.
“I think Patrick (Peterson) said it yesterday: We’ve got a lot of games left to play. We’ve still got a story to tell as far as who this team is going to be.”
Whisenhunt especially liked that the team was able to overcome adversity, including running back Ryan Williams’ late fumble.
“A lot of things were going against us, but we stayed together as a team and made enough plays to win. Ultimately, that’s a great step for our team,” he said. “I think it helps foster the belief in team. I think it validates that we can go into a tough place and win.”
Whisenhunt said he talked to Williams, who could have been the goat had the Patriots not missed a last-second field goal. Whisenhunt told Williams the story of when he was an assistant with the Steelers and running back Jerome Bettis fumbled in a playoff game against Indianapolis, only to have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger make a game-saving tackle on Colts cornerback Nick Harper with the Steelers clinging to a three-point lead.
“The next two weeks, Jerome was huge for us as far as getting to the Super Bowl. That’s the type of mentality you’ve got to have,” Whisenhunt said. “You’ve got to learn from it and go forward. (Ryan)’s a good young player, and I know he was torn up about what happened in the game, but that’s going to happen when you have young players.”
Tight end Todd Heap said Monday that he suffered a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in Sunday’s win over the Patriots but that an MRI showed no structural damage.
“It’s a day-to-day thing,” he said. “I’d love to be out there, but it’s one of those deals where you have to let it calm down.”
Heap wasn’t happy that the injury came on a late hit by New England safety Steve Gregory. “I don’t know if there is a reason to come in and hit guys late like that, but it happened and you move on,” he said.
If Heap can’t go this week, Rob Housler could end up getting more snaps than he’s had the first two weeks of the season.
Whisenhunt said Monday he isn’t certain if quarterback John Skelton (low-ankle sprain) will resume practice this week but noted that Skelton is moving around better after suffering the injury in Week 1 against Seattle.
“Until he can take a drop and move around in the pocket, we won’t know much,” Whisenhunt said.
The question of Kevin Kolb’s starting status did not come up at Monday’s press conference – but it’s a question Whisenhunt is likely to deflect until he has to provide an answer. With Kolb leading the club to back-to-back wins, it’s hard to envision the team making a change even if Skelton is ready to go. But circumstances often decide these situations for coaches as the season plays out.
Outside linebacker Quentin Groves’ free-agent signing flew a bit under the radar in May. He was a second-round pick out of Jacksonville in 2008. He spent two seasons in Jacksonville, playing in all 32 games, but struggling to establish himself.
He had 2½ sacks his first season but didn’t record another one until Sunday’s game in New England.
He was traded to the Raiders for a fifth-round pick in 2009 and spent two years in Oakland, earning a spot in the starting lineup in his first season but serving mostly as a backup in 2011.
Even more significant than the sack, Groves blocked a third-quarter punt that gave the Cardinals possession on New England’s 2-yard line and led to a touchdown. In effect, he called the shot.
“I kind of did (the) ol’ Babe Ruth,” he said, laughing. “It wasn’t done Sunday on its own. It was something leading up to Sunday.”
Groves showed up for film study on Tuesday before the game with special teams coach Kevin Spencer and watched films of New England’s kicking game.
“I was like, well that wing is kind of shaky,'” he said, referring to the Pats’ edge blocker. “(Spencer) said, ‘OK. How ’bout if I put you over there and you just put a pass rush move on him?’ That’s what I did — bull-rushed him.”
Pass rushing was Groves specialty at Auburn. He finished tied for the school career sack record with 26 but lost the knack in the pros.
“I wasn’t focused on playing football,” he said. “I was focused how much money I had in the bank and all these outside distractions.
“The free-agency agency process kind of sat me back down,” he said. “I had to go back to what got me here. Now I’m seeing the fruits of those labors.”
Groves likes his fit in coordinator Ray Horton’s defensive system because he can use his speed to move around and make plays. If he keeps performing like he did on Sunday, he may push O’Brien Schofield for time on the left edge.
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