Following their shocking upset loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI, the St. Louis Rams seemed poised for another Super Bowl run heading into the 2002 season.
Instead, the Rams opened the season 0-5, finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs altogether.
Earlier this week, then-Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, who missed the 2002 season due to injury, told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that the pressure of expectations got to the 2002 Rams team, which was every bit as talented as the 2001 squad.
Warner suspects this is exactly what's happening to this year's Arizona Cardinals, who are coming off their best-ever regular season but had a potential Super Bowl run cut short in a blowout loss at the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game.
After adding crucial components in the offseason, the Cardinals appeared destined for another Super Bowl run. Instead, they've opened the 2016 season with a 1-2 record and looked like anything but a Super Bowl-caliber team in last Sunday's loss at the Buffalo Bills.
"I think Kurt hit it right on the head when I was reading what he said," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Friday. "(The Rams) got everybody back and put too much pressure on themselves."
The Cardinals looked like the elite squad most of us expected them to be during their 40-7 demolition of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. But their other two performances -- a home loss to the injury-depleted Patriots and an embarrassing defeat in Buffalo -- have fans worried that this year's Cards might experience the same kind of regression that the 2002 Rams did.
"I think this team is trying a little too hard," Arians said. "We cut it loose one game, played pretty good. The rest, we pressed a little bit."
Arians believes this year's team may be a bit too anxious to right last year's wrongs, which is why he's reminding his players that they only way they'll get another chance to make another deep playoff run and win a Super Bowl is to focus on the next game on their schedule.
"Stay in the moment. Don't worry about December, January -- you've got to stay in the moment and not worry about all those things that have been said or what's being said," he said. "You've just got to practice every day and get yourself ready for this one game."
As the Cardinals' next game approaches -- fittingly, against the Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday afternoon -- Arians said he and his coaching staff are practicing patience and guidance in order to ensure this year's Cardinals avoid the same fate as Warner and the 2002 Rams.
"You can get pissed off, throw chairs, all that stuff. It doesn't do any good because there's no corrections, there's no teaching involved," he said.
"It's got to be a positive way of (saying), 'Here's a mistake, here's how you correct it. If you do this, you'll fix it.' Whether it's your preparation, your play, technique, fundamentally -- whatever it is, you have to have a positive approach with a player to teach him something to fix it."