Coach says not to overreact to Cardinals' punchless performance

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Coach Ken Whisenhunt had a constant theme on Monday: The Arizona Cardinals' offense is not as bad as it looked in Sunday's 17-10 loss at Tampa Bay.

"You can't overreact to it from the standpoint that we're doing it the wrong way or we need to change the whole perspective," he said. "We need to continue what we're doing, we just have to be better at it."

The Cardinals fell to 3-5 with their third consecutive loss, but in the weak NFC West, they remain just one game behind first-place Seattle.,

"As bad as it seems," left guard Reggie Wells said, "we're still in position for our No. 1 goal, and that's winning the division."

Still, the problems seem familiar to Cardinals fans who have seen the offense stumble despite the presence of two of the best wide receivers in the game, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, along with former Indianapolis great Edgerrin James at running back.

"We're a lot better than this," Boldin said before team meetings on Monday. "We shouldn't be held to 10 points by anybody in this league."

Boldin said the problem is playing with intelligence and attention to detail, aspects of the game Whisenhunt has emphasized since taking over from the fired Dennis Green this season.

"It's just us stopping ourselves," Boldin said. "Just the penalties and the little things. If we cleaned up the little things, this offense would be a lot better."

James, who had been effective earlier in the season, managed 15 yards in nine carries. Overall, Arizona had 195 yards, 23 on the ground. The Cardinals' one-armed quarterback Kurt Warner was 10-for-30 for 172 yards with two interceptions.

"Going into the game we were 10th in the league in offense, so it's not like we were an awful offense," Whisenhunt said. "We did not perform at the level that we needed to perform, and there were a number of reasons why that was.

"We didn't play well up front. We didn't make plays where we had opportunities to make plays, especially early."

Warner, playing with a torn ligament in his left, non-throwing, elbow, was not in the locker room on Monday. After Sunday's game, he said he was embarrassed.

"There's no excuse to play that way," he said. "You've got to prepare better. We've got to be ready to play. We've got to show when the gun goes off on Sunday. I've got no excuse. I've got no explanation. We weren't close to being good enough."

With the negativity flowing throughout a franchise long accustomed to losing, Whisenhunt was trying to keep spirits up.

"We have to continue to do things that accentuate the positive," he said. "That's going to mean throwing some balls to Larry, getting the ball to Anquan, using some of our three- and four-receiver sets. But we have to get back to, especially early in games, getting the ball more in Edge's hands."

Whisenhunt said he was "frustrated for our fans, because I feel like we're a better football team than the way we played yesterday. I'm frustrated for our players, because they believe we are a good team."

Mediocrity is good enough to contend in the NFC West, though.

"If we play like we played yesterday, being a game out of first place doesn't matter," Whisenhunt said. "If we can clean up some things and play a little better, than we have a chance, especially with five of our eight games at home."

Next Sunday, the Cardinals are home against Detroit.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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