Arizona looks to solve road woes at Minnesota
November 23, 2006 8:05pm CST
As bad as the Arizona Cardinals have been, they've been worse on the road. Heading into Sunday's game at Minnesota, the Cardinals are 0-4 away from home this season and 3-17 since Dennis Green took over as coach in 2004. "Good teams win on the road," Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said after Wednesday's practice. "You've got to play together as a team on the road. You can have the best individual performer, but you've got to play as a team on the road." Arizona is 2-4 at home this season and was in position late to win three of the games it lost -- against St. Louis, Kansas City and Chicago. On the road, though, the Cardinals haven't even been close, losing by a combined score of 106-43 at Seattle, Atlanta, Oakland and Green Bay. Rookie Matt Leinart, who took over at quarterback after the Atlanta game, had a far different road experience at USC, where his only two losses in 39 starts were at California in 2003 and in the national title game against Texas last season. "You definitely have to have that confidence going in," Leinart said. "You've got to want to play on the road. You've got to want to shut up the crowd. There's nothing better than beating somebody on their home field." Leinart believes the Cardinals have built some confidence by beating Detroit 17-10 last Sunday, ending their eight-game losing streak. "Once you get that first win, it's kind of a monkey off your back," he said, "then you slowly build that confidence back. Right now we have a lot of confidence going in toward the tail end of this season." Green didn't seem to know why his Arizona teams had played so poorly away from home, especially after his teams in 10 seasons with Minnesota were competitive away from home. Successful road teams, Green said, "handle adversity, make a run at a team, and then when they respond, make another run at them -- get all three phases playing well. Make some big plays, put a dagger in them, that's normally what it takes." Fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo, who played with successful road teams in Baltimore, said teams have to simply pay more attention and work harder to succeed away from home. "I'd say that the attention to detail and focus has to step it up a level," he said, "and that's probably the main ingredient -- locking in a little tougher, communicating a little bit better, really being determined to win, against all odds, against any circumstances you encounter. "As you do those things, confidence comes." This road game has the subplot of Green's return to Minnesota. Maybe that will be enough of an emotional boost. History, oddly enough, also is on Arizona's side. The Cardinals have won their fifth road game each of the past two seasons.