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Whisenhunt encouraged by late season turnaround

Most Arizona Cardinals fans wrote off the team when the
season looked bleak with a 1-6 start. As coach Ken
Whisenhunt looked back on the season for evaluations, he
noticed that’s when the team started to get stronger.

“I think the thing that we learned about our football team
from sitting here a couple weeks after the season is that
our guys never gave up,” Whisenhunt told Arizona Sports
620’s Doug and Wolf. “They believed in what we were
doing. And I think that anytime you have a team that if
you can find ways to win in this league, that’s really
what it’s all about.”

The shaky start took a discouraging turn when quarterback
Kevin Kolb suffered a turf toe injury against the
Baltimore Ravens in seventh week. However, John Skelton
took over and led the Cards to a 19-13 overtime win
against the Rams. That was the first of four overtime wins
during the season. The wins were a bit messy, too, with
Arizona going into the second half trailing in seven of
the eight wins.

“I think it goes back to not only your beliefs in how you
do things, how you prepare, how you practice, but getting
your players to believe that and execute it,” Whisenhunt
said. “It ultimately comes down to being able to make a
play or two in a team that can turn a game around.”

Those big plays happened often and in timely fashion.

Patrick Peterson snapped the five-game losing streak on a
99-yard punt return in overtime against the Rams, Beanie
Wells set a franchise mark of 228 yards a few weeks later
against the same St. Louis team, and O’Brien Schofield
with two sacks against Cleveland. And, of course, Larry
Fitzgerald was Larry Fitzgerald with his clutch catches in
the last few games of the season.

“If you just take a minute and think about all the young
players that were making some of these plays that were
critical to us having success in these games, it really
sets the table for the excitement of what we can do as we
get together in the offseason,” Whisenhunt said.

What Whisenhunt hopes for is that next year’s team will
know what they are capable of because most of the players
are returning.

“What’s really exciting is that we went through as tough a
time as we possibly could, and we were still able and turn
that around and get to that point,” Whisenhunt said. “And
that bodes well for us because we’ve got so many guys that
understand that now.

“And going into next year, we’re not going to have 51 new
guys like we did this year. We’re going to have a lot of
the same guys that know that and they’re going to be in
here in the offseason and we’re going to be working.”