IRVING, Texas - Finally, the Arizona Cardinals got a little relief. After starting the season with a win, the Cardinals lost seven straight before last weekend's welcomed bye. It's back to the salt mines again Sunday, however, when Arizona will show off its brand-new digs, University of Phoenix Stadium, to the former NFC East rival Cowboys.
After disappointment in the early going, both Arizona and Dallas made the switch from immobile veteran quarterbacks to youngsters this season, the Cardinals ousting Kurt Warner for Matt Leinart and the Cowboys replacing Drew Bledsoe with Tony Romo. Leinart has looked good at times, throwing for 899 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions through four games, yet he still is looking for his first win as a starter.
To Leinart's advantage, the Cardinals have one of the best receiving corps in football, though big-play wideout Larry Fitzgerald has missed the past three games after pulling his hamstring against Kansas City. He is expected to be back on a limited basis for Sunday's 3:15 p.m. (CST) kickoff, however, teaming with Anquan Boldin and Edgerrin James to form maybe the NFL's most talented trio of offensive weapons.
- Just how good is Anquan Boldin? He is the fastest player in NFL history to reach 300 career receptions, accomplishing the feat in just 47 games. He is tied with Houston's Charley Hennigan and some old-timer named Jerry Rice for third fastest to get to 4,000 career receiving yards, reaching the milestone in his 48th game.
- When Edgerrin James rushes for 100 yards in a game, his team is 43-6. When he carries the ball 21-25 times, his team is 56-12. Things aren't going as well this season, though, as James is averaging just 2.8 yards-per-run and still looking for his first 100-yard game as a Cardinal.
- Defensively, the Cardinals are led by versatile safety Adrian Wilson, whose unique skill set has helped him total 12 sacks since 2005, the most in the league for a defensive back. He recorded eight sacks in 2005 to set the record for defensive backs, and is the only NFL player this season with four sacks and three interceptions.
- The Cardinals are second in the league with 59 first-quarter points. They have scored six touchdowns and a field goal in the first period this season.
Things just haven't gone well for the Cardinals this season, and embattled head coach Dennis Green could be on the way out sooner rather than later.
In fact, the coach-axing has already begun, with Green firing offensive coordinator Keith Rowan on Oct. 17. The Cardinals are 27th in the NFL in total offense, dead last in rushing offense and 25th in total defense. They do, however, pose a tough match-up for the Cowboys' secondary. If Matt Leinart can get the ball to Boldin and Fitzgerald, should he play, the Cowboys could be in trouble, judging by the issues they have had this season with big gains on deep balls.
Expect the stout Dallas run defense to keep James hemmed in, and the Cardinals to try to get the ball downfield early and often.
- Cardinals Defensive Coordinator Clancy Pendergast- Pendergast was a Cowboys assistant from 1996-2002, working with the linebackers and then the secondary.
- Cardinals offensive tackle Oliver Ross - spent one season and went to two training camps with the Cowboys before being released in 1999. He went to the Eagles before latching on with the Steelers for five seasons. He signed a five-year deal with the Cardinals before the 2005 season.
- Cardinals Spanish Radio Analyst Luis Zendejas - is a Cowboys former kicker, spending three seasons in Dallas (1987-89), and might be most remembered for accusing Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan of putting a bounty on him in 1989. Zendejas claimed he found out from an Eagles assistant that the Eagles players were guaranteed an under-the-table bonus if they were able to take him out of the game.
The Cardinals placed linebacker James Darling (calf) on injured reserve Monday and signed former New England linebacker Monty Beisel to a one-year deal . . . The Cardinals will add former safety Pat Tillman to the club's Ring of Honor at halftime of Sunday's game . . . The Cowboys hold the all-time series lead over Arizona, now tallied at 54-28-1 . . . This will be the fourth time Dallas has met Arizona since the 2002 division realignment, the Cowboys having won the previous two games . . . The Cardinals are 2-0 after a bye under Dennis Green . . . The Cowboys, building their own stadium set for completion for the 2009 season, will get a first-hand look at the 63,400-seat University of Phoenix Stadium that is expandable to 73,000 for special events. And not only do the Cards have a retractable roof for their new stadium, only the second in the NFL, they also have the first retractable field in a North American stadium. The field, on a conveyor belt, takes about an hour to roll in and out of the stadium.