GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A lot of teams have practiced well during the week but come out flat or slow and lost on Sunday.
But not a lot of teams have the type of early-week practice that Cardinals coach Bruce Arians put his team through on Monday. Coming off a loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 17, Arizona had the weekend after off, so Arians took advantage of a new rule in the CBA that allows teams to practice in pads twice in a week just once during the season.
And it paid off in Sunday’s 27-13 win over Atlanta.
“We had a training-camp practice,” Arians said. “A lot of teams would balk at that.
“We had the best practice we’ve had all year and it set the tempo for this game and set the tempo for the rest of the season.”
Actually, a lot of players did balk but they knew at 3-4 heading into the Falcons’ game, they weren’t in a position to voice their displeasure. If they were 7-1, linebacker John Abraham said, Arians would’ve heard some moaning and groaning. But the Cardinals aren’t.
“If you’re trying to win, you’re going to do it,” Abraham said. “It was game speed. Literally it was game speed. We could’ve literally tackled, which a couple people did here and there. We could’ve took people down. It was a game. It was pretty much like training camp. It was going hard and we banged each other. We kinda just showed each other that we got it and we still can play. It was more for mentality thing.”
Two words were commonly used to describe Monday’s practice: character and maturity.
That the Cardinals took advantage of the extra work day proved to each other that they were committed to improving. And they all knew what was on the line, especially heading into a bye week -- 3-5 doesn’t sit as well as 4-4 does for two weeks.
“We just came back,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said, “and put our head down.”
Right tackle Eric Winston has been on teams that practiced well but didn’t play at the same level. He watched Monday’s practice carry over into Wednesday which propelled the Cardinals on Sunday.
“We knew we needed to get back to work,” he said. “We came Monday ready to work and we executed that. That, the execution part more so than anything, carried over into today.”