PHOENIX, AZ (AP) – The Arizona Cardinals’ defense has led the way during the team’s best start in 38 years, and that unit might get a big boost this week.
Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson could return as the Cardinals attempt to improve to 4-0 and clinch the franchise’s longest home win streak in 87 years Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Kick off is at 4:05 p.m.
Arizona has won its first three games for the first time since a 7-0 start in 1974 – when the team was 14 years away from relocating from St. Louis – and has produced those victories in large part by allowing the second-fewest points in the league with 40.
The club’s 12 sacks are also tied for second and it has at least two in an NFL-best nine straight games.
“We have a swagger and a lot of confidence,” linebacker Daryl Washington said. “We believe in one another and as the season progresses, we’ll continue to get better.”
The Cardinals, one of three unbeaten teams, have given up two touchdowns – none on the ground – and didn’t surrender any in a 27-6 win over Philadelphia on Sunday. They had a season-high five sacks and forced three fumbles, including one that James Sanders returned 93 yards for a touchdown as time expired in the first half.
“They’re playing hard, they’re believing in the scheme and it’s a great feeling when everyone’s playing the way they are,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
Whisenhunt might feel even better if Wilson can return from an ankle injury for this game. Sanders was one of the players who filled the spot of the five-time Pro Bowler last week.
The Cardinals might also get tight end Todd Heap back, though running back Beanie Wells is out until Nov. 25 and it’s uncertain when quarterback John Skelton will return or if he’ll be the starter when he does.
Skelton beat out Kevin Kolb for the starting job, but sprained his right ankle in the season opener and has missed the past two games.
Given another chance, Kolb has posted a 108.6 passer rating – third in the league – with four touchdowns and no interceptions in three contests. He went 17 of 24 for a season-high 222 yards against the Eagles, who traded him to Arizona before last season.
“The biggest thing is being 3-0,” Kolb said. “Being 3-0 with the teams that we’ve played and the fashion that we’ve won, it’s been exciting.”
The latest victory was Arizona’s 10th in 12 games and seventh in a row at home. The club hasn’t won eight straight at home since a franchise-record nine-game run Oct. 4-Nov. 29, 1925, when the team was based in Chicago.
The Dolphins will try to end that streak while bouncing back from a missed opportunity.
Miami (1-2) had a chance to beat the New York Jets last week, but Dan Carpenter missed a 48-yard field goal in overtime. The Jets hit a 33-yarder on the ensuing drive to hand the Dolphins a 23-20 defeat.
Leading rusher Reggie Bush exited the game with an injured left knee, but it’s not expected to keep him out this week.
“He’s healthy and he’ll be able to contribute,” offensive lineman Richie Incognito said.
Bush, who has rushed for 302 yards, ran for 84 on five carries in his only game against the Cardinals, a 45-14 divisional playoff win for New Orleans on Jan. 16, 2010.
If he can’t go, Miami will likely turn to Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller again. Thomas had 69 yards on 19 carries against the Jets and Miller added 48 on nine attempts.
“I think (Bush will) be good by Sunday,” Miller said. “I know he’s doing a lot of rehab to try to get back and help the team out.”
The Dolphins are facing the Cardinals for the first time since a 31-10 loss in Arizona on Sept. 14, 2008. Larry Fitzgerald, who became the youngest player with 700 receptions last week, had six catches for 153 yards in the victory.
Fitzgerald needs 205 yards to join Randy Moss as the only players to surpass 10,000 before turning 30.
Arizona has won its last two meetings with Miami after losing the first eight.
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