Underdog Cardinals have much to prove

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Trash talk abounds, providing a potential Arizona motivator

Superbowl Xliii

January 28, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

TAMPA, Fla. - The Arizona Cardinals have a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player at quarterback and two of the most talented wide receivers in the game.

They also bring something else into the Super Bowl: a chip on their shoulder.

Arizona began the postseason with 35-1 odds to win the Super Bowl. NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth once referred to the Cardinals as "maybe the worst playoff team of all time."

Now, Arizona is a seven-point underdog against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It's been tough, because every time you turn on the TV or read something, it isn't very good," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "You don't have to look hard to find something that would motivate us."

In the past seven Super Bowls, three underdogs have prevailed, including the New York Giants, who upset the New England Patriots last year.

"I couldn't tell you who is the favorite or the underdog," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "It will have no effect on the game."

Brotherly love

Steelers left guard Chris Kemoeatu has not let his brother forget that he reached the Super Bowl first.

His older brother, Maake Kemoeatu, is a defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers but played his first four seasons with the Ravens.

"I rib him all the time," Chris Kemoeatu said. "I was hoping we would play them in the Super Bowl, but it didn't happen."

Poetry in motion

Media Day didn't disappoint with its off-beat occurrences.

A female reporter from TV Azteca measured the biceps of players. Another reporter asked a Steelers practice-squad player about how he would stop the Cardinals.

There was a dance floor set up in the corner of the stadium, where Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden and Cardinals defensive tackle Gabe Watson each showed off their moves for Entertainment Tonight.

Someone even asked Tomlin about his favorite poet.

"I am a Frost guy," Tomlin said. "The guys look at me a little cross-eyed sometimes when I quote Frost, but oh, well. You can blame William and Mary for that."

Ravens notes

Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson could be emerging as the leading candidate for the San Francisco 49ers' offensive coordinator job. He met with coach Mike Singletary for the second time in five days at 49ers headquarters.

The only other candidate to interview twice was Scott Linehan, who turned down the job.

In his first season with the Ravens, Jackson was instrumental in the development of rookie quarterback Joe Flacco. He previously served as an offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins.

The Ravens have signed eight players off their 2008 practice squad and two more from their injured reserve list to reserve/future list contracts for 2009.

Signed off injured reserve were wide receiver Justin Harper ( Virginia Tech) and defensive end Bryan Mattison (Iowa), the son of newly named defensive coordinator Greg Mattison.

Also returning to the Ravens from the practice squad are guard Brian Johnson (LSU), running back Matt Lawrence (Massachusetts), cornerback Anwar Phillips (Penn State), tackle Joe Reitz (Western Michigan), tight end Isaac Smolko (Penn State), tackle Tre Stallings (Mississippi), and wide receivers Ernie Wheelwright (Minnesota) and Edward Williams (Lane).

Baltimore Sun reporter Ken Murray contributed to this article.

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