Cardinals shake off ugly loss to aim for playoffs
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) A blowout loss at home to Seattle didn't mean anything in terms of when and where the Arizona Cardinals play in the postseason.
It sure stung nonetheless.
''But the good news is that we're only thinking about the playoffs now and the next ball game,'' coach Bruce Arians said on Monday.
Arians attributed Sunday's 36-6 defeat to ''just a lack of passion and energy.''
''That's not the way we played all year,'' he said. ''It was fairly obvious all week in practice. They (the players) were ready to get to the playoffs and get this one over with. That's just the way we played.''
The Cardinals won the NFC West, finished the regular season a franchise-record 13-3, and are the No. 2 seed in the conference. They have a first-round bye and will play the divisional round game at home at 6:30 p.m. MST on Jan 16. The opponent will be Minnesota, Green Bay or Washington. Because Seattle is the No. 6 seed, the only way the Seahawks could play the Cardinals again would be in the NFC championship game.
Each of Arizona's three practices this week will focus on one of those three potential foes.
''Wednesday will be Green Bay, Thursday is Minnesota and Friday will be Washington,'' Arians said. ''... This is going to be more game plan work than Cardinals versus Cardinals fundamental work, like you would do on an open date. Each day has a specific purpose.''
No. 5 seed Green Bay plays at No. 4 Washington and No.6 Seattle is at No. 3 Minnesota in the NFC wild-card round on Sunday. The highest surviving seed will face the Cardinals.
The coaching staff has a head start in game plans for Green Bay and Minnesota because the Cardinals faced them both - and won both times - in the regular season. Washington will get extra attention this week.
''From what I've seen, Kirk (Cousins) is playing really, really well, especially at home. Now they went to Chicago and he played extremely well there also, and Dallas. They've got weapons. He's playing at a very high level.''
Thinking about the next opponent is a lot more enjoyable than revisiting Arizona's Sunday debacle.
''A good lesson learned,'' Arians said. ''I don't care who you play in the National Football League, if you're not ready to play, you are not going to win. Not only that, you'll probably get embarrassed by a team that is ready to play.''
To be successful in the playoffs, Arians said, the Cardinals need to ''just play to our strengths.''
''When we play with passion and energy, we don't miss tackles,'' he said. ''We do a much better job following bootlegs and things like that. Offensively, just catch the damn ball. It's not like we've dropped a lot of balls this year, but we dropped a bunch in that game, which was a total lack of focus.''
Arians gave the players Monday and Tuesday off but they showed up anyway.
''They actually had two days off, but they were all here today,'' he said. ''A bunch of them watched the tape (of the Seattle game) together. I don't think this group lacks any confidence.''
Notes: Arians said defensive lineman Cory Redding sustained a high ankle sprain, the second time he's injured that ankle. Arians said he doubts Redding will be ready to play in the next game. Otherwise, there were no significant injuries from the Seahawks game. .... Arians said he'd planned all week to have Carson Palmer sit out the second half of the Seattle game, despite his comments to the contrary last week. So he lied to reporters? ''Of course,'' he said.
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