Cardinals confident, not `cocky,' with 7-1 start

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Halfway through their season, the Arizona Cardinals have the best record in the NFL.

Their 7-1 record matches their best through eight games in franchise history.

And their next two games, against St. Louis and Detroit, are at home, where the Cardinals are 4-0 this year and 10-2 over the past two seasons.

Coach Bruce Arians said this team is confident, but not overconfident.

"I don't see any cockiness in our football team," he said Monday. "I see a true belief that we're going to win every week."

Since Week 8 of last season, Arizona is 14-3, the best record in the NFL in that span.

In the tough NFC West, the Cardinals are two games up on reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle (5-3) and three up on San Francisco (4-4).

But that means little if things start to fall apart.

Cardinals coaches have told the players that the only thing that's guaranteed now is a 7-9 final record.

"We have coaches that remind us that it could go downhill real fast," defensive lineman Dan Williams said.

Arizona has won four in a row, the latest a 28-17 victory Sunday over the Cowboys, snapping a string of 14 straight regular-season losses in Dallas. The streak dated to 1989, when Troy Aikman was a rookie and Jimmy Johnson was in his first season as Cowboys' coach.

The Cardinals spotted the Cowboys a 10-0 lead, then scored 28 in a row before giving up a meaningless touchdown in the final moments, the only TD for the Dallas offense all day.

"It's another resilient day at the office basically for our guys," Arians said.

With Dallas quarterback Tony Romo out with a back injury, the Cardinals zeroed in on Demarco Murray, holding him to 79 yards in 19 carries - the first time he's gained fewer than 100 yards this season. That allowed Arizona to focus on disrupting backup quarterback Brandon Weeden, who completed 18 of 33 for 183 yards and was intercepted twice - first by Tyrann Mathieu, then by Antonio Cromartie.

"Honestly, right now our confidence is through the roof," cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "No matter who we step on the field with or what the scenario is, we feel we are the best team on the football field. We spotted them 10 points, we didn't blink."

Williams had a team-high seven tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss in what Arians called "a fantastic game, maybe his best game as a Cardinal since I've been here."

Peterson, criticized in recent weeks for not playing up to his usual high standards, held Dez Bryant without a catch until the final two minutes.

"I thought Patrick had his best game in a long, long time," Arians said.

Carson Palmer threw just his second interception of the season, and Dallas rookie Tyler Patmon returned it 58 yards for an early touchdown. But the Arizona quarterback went on to throw for three touchdowns - his sixth consecutive multiple-TD game. He finished 22 of 34 for 249 yards.

The interception was only the Cardinals' sixth turnover of the season, tied for fewest in the league. They are plus-10 in turnover margin, second to New England's plus-12. Their two interceptions thrown are the fewest in the NFL and their 12 interceptions are tied with Buffalo for most in the league.

The Cardinals are 5-0 this season with Palmer starting. He has thrown for 11 touchdowns and has won 12 of his last 14 starts, dating to last season.

Andre Ellington outgained Dallas' Murray, rushing for 95 yards in 21 carries. He also caught four passes for 39 yards.

Still, Arians said the offense was "hit and miss," as it has been all season.

The Cardinals' offense has played its best in the fourth quarter, when they have outscored opponents 70-34. Against Dallas, they scored two fourth-quarter TDs to go up 28-10 before Dallas got its late score.

Arizona completed a sweep of the NFC East and is 5-0 against conference foes.

"Our guys are finding ways to win, especially in the fourth quarter," Arians said. "We may stink it up for three quarters offensively, but all of a sudden when it's crunch time we score. That's learning how to win."



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