If misery loves company, the St. Louis Rams will be a sight for sore eyes when they visit University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday.
One of the few teams struggling more than the Rams lately is the Arizona Cardinals, the same Cardinals that were the surprise of the first month of the season. After a start that saw them win their first four games, including knocking off the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, the Cardinals have been in a freefall, losing their last six.
Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt has had a hard time keeping the players’ spirits up in the midst of the slide.
“It’s not easy, especially with the way we started,” Whisenhunt said. “When you win four in a row and you feel good, it’s tough. I think that a lot of it goes back to your players and the guys that believe in what you’re doing. We know that we have won some games this year and we won a string of them. We’ve just got to focus on getting back to that.”
The team on the other side of the field Sunday is one the Cardinals are familiar with -the Rams were the ones that started the Cardinals’ slide. Leading the division with a chance to show their abilities on national television, the Cardinals went into St. Louis and were shut down in front of a Thursday night audience, losing 17-3 and any momentum in the process. The Cardinals haven’t been the same since.
But neither have the Rams. That Thursday night game put the Rams at 3-2 on the season and gave hope to a young team and a fanbase that had been through some lean years. But the Rams and head coach Jeff Fisher were unable to capitalize on that optimism, instead reeling off three straight losses and going 0-4-1 overall since that Thursday night in early October.
The string of losses on both sides hasn’t been lost on Fisher, who said come Sunday “something’s going to give.”
“I think the big thing as we move forward, as we’ve talked to them about it, don’t worry about going out and winning the game,” Fisher said. “You worry about going out and playing well and the rest of it takes care of itself.”
Barring a tie like the Rams and 49ers played to in San Francisco two weeks ago, something will give in the desert, but it may be giving too late for either team’s liking. Both teams are looking up at the 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West, and the picture only gets less rosy when looking at the wild card race.
But thin hopes don’t change the outlook for either team. Cardinals running back Beanie Wells, who will return this week for his first action since week three, said they’ve still got their eyes on the prize, and the first order of business is exacting revenge Sunday.
“We’re desperate,” Wells said. “We don’t feel as if we can lose any more games and still get in that tournament, and that’s our goal. We want to accomplish that by any means necessary. So, if you want to call us desperate, I will completely agree with that.”
They most likely won’t be the only team in the stadium desperate for a win Sunday.