Is momentum real, and will it help Cards?
July 27, 2012
Momentum is a favorite term in the sports lexicon. Teams use it to explain rallies. Writers and broadcasters use it as a narrative arc. Coaches use it to sell their teams on sunnier days.
But is it real?
“I personally don’t believe in momentum,” Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. “I believe in the best preparation and focusing and getting ready for that game that’s coming up.”
Numerous researchers have tried to identify the presence of momentum in sports, with most finding little evidence that such an animal exists outside the strict physical definition culled from an object in motion.
Yet the notion persists. Take the Cardinals defense as an example. A widely held belief is that the defense’s superlative play over the second half of last season will carry over -- that the unit has built some momentum.
Never mind the research that debunks this myth and the reality that about eight months will have passed before the Cardinals play another regular-season game. Can a team really sustain momentum over such a lengthy period of inactivity?
"It doesn’t happen (often)," safety Kerry Rhodes said. "But I think it can work if you believe in it. I think, as a group, we do believe in it. The way we played down the stretch and the way that we grasped the defense down the stretch of last season, we definitely believe in it."
Perhaps momentum is impossible to measure -- an intangible that science will never grasp. Or maybe the Cardinals defense is just that good. Maybe, once they figured out how to execute defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s schemes, they had the personnel to match their second-half statistics.
-- Craig Morgan