TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - The Arizona Cardinals offense has been bad this season, but never worse than it was on Sunday.
Its performance in the 7-6 loss to the New York Jets was among the worst in the team's history, and that's saying something for a franchise that's had a lot of bad Sundays.
The team had five first downs, tied for fewest in franchise history, was 0 for 15 on third-down conversions and gained 137 yards, 40 of them on a fake punt. The Cardinals gained 22 yards in the second half.
Still, coach Ken Whisenhunt stayed with rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley, refusing to reinsert John Skelton, benched by the coach three games ago.
Now the Arizona losing streak has reached eight games, matching the franchise's longest in 68 years.
Exceedingly popular among fans for bringing the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in the 2008 season, and to the NFC West crown the following year, Whisenhunt finds himself the subject of the fans' wrath. Speculation is mounting that he might not return for the final year of his contract.
Team President Michael Bidwill, the owner's son, has not spoken publicly about the situation.
Whisenhunt is among the highest-paid coaches in the NFL, due to make $5.7 million next year, and the Bidwill family is not known for tossing around that kind of money, although the ownership has proven to be far more generous recent seasons, especially since the University of Phoenix Stadium opened in 2006.
Arizona has sold out every home game since then, but the fan base is shaky and that string is in serious doubt, if not for the next home game against Detroit, then certainly for next year.
The team's offensive woes this season have stemmed in large part from injuries, particularly to left tackle Levi Brown, quarterback Kevin Kolb and, most recently, center Lyle Sendlein, who was sorely missed against the Jets.
Yet with the defense playing so well, it's particularly maddening to fans to watch the offense stagnate.
Skelton will be back at starting quarterback when the Cardinals play the Seahawks Sunday in Seattle.
Whisenhunt says his decision to replace Lindley was based on several factors, including the environment the Cardinals will face in Seattle, where the crowd is among the loudest in the NFL and the conditions are likely to be cold and wet.
Skelton says he is taking nothing for granted and just wants to complete more passes than he did when he was benched in favor of Lindley three games ago. Lindley says he understands the decision.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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