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Cards Defense in a Free Fall Due to Bevy of Injuries

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I knew it was bad, but I didn't know it was this bad. Over the past five weeks, the time when Arizona should have been doing better in hopes of a postseason finish, the team's defense has slipped from 9th in the NFL to 18th.

The first half of the season it was the solid foundation that kept Arizona alive in games. In spite of the frustratingly inconsistent offense, the defense was always there. It bailed the team out when it was needed.

But lately? Lately it seems like the defense has thrown in the towel while the offense does it best to put points on the board. Part of it is the team's schedule, having faced the Saints and Seahawks during the stretch.

But come on. There's got to be a better reason than that.

"That's the NFL," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "It's our job to do some things to stop it. It's nothing we can complain about, we just have to be better."

Whisenhunt could have said, it's been injuries. It's the team's best excuse. Adrian Wilson - gone. Bertrand Berrian - out. Eric Green - done.

"All around the league, injuries around this time have caught up with a lot of teams," said inside linebacker Gerald Hayes. "We got some major injuries on our squad. Some voids were filled but it's tough when you got your starters out."

Agreed. The Cardinals can justify part of the problem with the injuries. As one fan said earlier this week, "How different the season may have turned out if we didn't have the injuries."

We'll never really know, now. But one thing is certain: it couldn't have been more disappointing.