LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -Clinton Portis received a request this week from his old University of Miami buddy Edgerrin James, running back for the soon-to-be Washington Cardinals.
``I got a text from him telling me he needs a car,'' Portis said, ``because he's going to be out here for a whole week. So I'm trying to find, like, an old '54 with no air conditioning - no nothing - to put him in, so he can suffer.''
You heard right. The Arizona Cardinals, trying to keep the momentum from a 2-0 start and fed up with their poor record in the eastern time zone, are taking an old-fashioned road trip. They visit the Redskins on Sunday, then will make the nation's capital their home while preparing for their game the following weekend at the Meadowlands against the New York Jets.
to be a better road team, and last year we weren't that good, and hopefully this is just something that will give us a better chance.''
The facts support Whisenhunt. The NFL's five westernmost teams - Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego and Arizona - went 3-15 in the east last year. The Cardinals are a staggering 2-14 in cross-country road trips since 2003.
Redskins coach Jim Zorn knows the dilemma well, having spent most of his career in Seattle as a player and an assistant on Mike Holmgren's staff. A 1 p.m. start in the east translates to 10 a.m. for the body clock of someone arriving from the west coast.
Four of Seattle's six regular-season losses last year came at Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Carolina and Atlanta. Zorn thinks the time lag might have played a factor when Holmgren's Seahawks lost at Buffalo in Week 1 this season.
``There were times when we would come out on a Friday and we'd lose,'' Zorn said, ``so he said we're going to come out on a Saturday and we'd lose. And then we'd come out on a Friday and we'd win, and we'd come out on a Saturday and we'd win. So you realize there's no magic formula.''
Holmgren never brought the team east for a full week, although other coaches have done it on rare occasions. For one thing, it requires a ton of logistics planning. The Cardinals flew to Washington on Friday, but they asked their players to put their extra packing on a truck that was also loaded with equipment and driven across the country ahead of time.
``Honestly, I don't really care for it too much,'' Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner said. ``Having played in this league as long as I have, and done a lot of road trips, I kind of like just coming home and seeing my family and having a normal routine and then going back to play.
``But at the same time I respect Coach's decision to try to change things up given that we haven't been a good road team.''
By the time Warner sees his family again, the NFL will have a better idea whether the Cardinals are for real. They played well in victories over San Francisco and Miami, but no one is mistaking either of two those teams for a Super Bowl contender. A win over the Redskins (1-1) will give the franchise its first 3-0 start since 1974, so Whisenhunt understands if fans need more evidence this team might snag a rare playoff berth.
``I don't blame 'em,'' Whisenhunt said. ``I think that we have to prove that we're a good team, and this game will certainly be a good measuring stick for us. There is a lot of excitement because it hasn't happened that often in the past years. There is a little bit of buzz in the town.''
As for the Redskins (1-1), they aren't buying into the fact their home-field advantage is a bigger advantage than usual because the other team has come from afar. One of Arizona's three cross-country losses last year was a mistake-filled 21-19 defeat at Washington in which the Cardinals failed to convert a 2-point conversion in the final 30 seconds, then recovered an onside kick and missed a field goal that would have won the game.
``They had us beat,'' defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. ``We were dead, and they gave us mouth-to-mouth. They made some mistakes at the end to bring us back to life. Realistically, they beat our butts.''
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