Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart (Getty)
Quarterback Kurt Warner finds it amusing how much one game can change the perception of his age and abilities. He played poorly in the season opener and suddenly everyone was wondering if Warner, 38, was showing his age. How much was his sore hip bothering him? Why couldn't he avoid the rush? Should Matt Leinart, the backup, start warming up?
Then Kurt Warner plays like he did against Jaguars and it's as if he's found the fountain of youth. Warner, 38, completed 24 of 26 passes, setting an NFL record for completion percentage (92.3).
"I think it's just funny how fans respond to anything," Warner said. "The game before I was too old to play, we were in the Super Bowl for the first time ever. And then the next game I'm too old and the next game, I'm a little younger. Not much younger, probably 37 1/2."
Warner doesn't take much of the talk seriously. He's been benched by three different teams, -- the Rams, Giants and Cardinals - and every time there was a different reason. A hand injury. A concussion. He held on to the ball too long. Still, he keeps "resurfacing."
"It's always something different, that's the funny thing about it," Warner said. "With St. Louis I hurt my hand so that time I wasn't any good because my hand was hurt. Then it was, 'he's too old.' There is always something they can gravitate to.
"It's not just, 'Well, he's not any good.' They always have a reason for you not being very good. That's the funny part of it to me is, 'What's it going to be this time?' I didn't play well (against the 49ers). You have a bad game, it doesn't mean you can't play the game anymore."
Warner even gets it at home from his wife, who teases him after a bad game.
"My wife said, 'You're just old, dude. I've been reading and you're just old,'" he said. "It is funny."
SERIES HISTORY: 14th regular-season meeting. Colts lead, 7-6. The Colts haven't played in Arizona since 1990 and six of the last seven games between the teams have been in Indianapolis. The games usually have been close. Eight of the last 10 have been decided by a touchdown or less, with the last five by a margin of 3.6 points.
--Larry Fitzgerald's younger brother Marcus caused a bit of a stir with some controversial tweets on his Twitter account during last Sunday's game against the Jaguars.
Larry caught just four passes for 34 yards in the game, although he did score a touchdown. In his tweets, Marcus posted that his brother was unhappy that he wasn't getting the ball. Marcus also called Kurt Warner "an old man."
Marcus apologized the next day, as did Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., who said his youngest son used bad judgment. Larry Fitzgerald, the receiver, joked that Warner had a new volunteer to work his football camp. Younger brother Marcus is available to take out the garbage, Larry said.
--Rookie running back Beanie Wells rushed seven times for 44 yards last week, but he also fumbled twice. That earned him a game ball from safety Adrian Wilson, who lectured him about fumbling. Wells isn't venturing far without the ball this week. Trust me," Coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "He may be carrying a ball around with him all day now."
--Ken Whisenhunt didn't pull Kurt Warner in the third quarter last week to protect Warner's 92.3 percent completion percentage, which set an NFL record. Warner aggravated a shoulder injury and told Whisenhunt he could come out at any time. The Cardinals led, 31-10, at the time.
The Jaguars scored once and Whisenhunt thought about going back to Warner. "But you know it wasn't Matt," Whisenhunt said. "He was operating the offense. The reason I took Kurt out was not anything other than I wanted to make sure he was O.K."
Whisenhunt said he had "no idea," Warner had set a record.
--In Whisenhunt's three seasons the Cardinals are 17-0 when they have fewer turnovers than the opponent. They are 3-2 when they break even and 1-15 when they lose the turnover battle.
--Larry Fitzgerald has a touchdown reception in the last eight games, including four preseason games. Anquan Boldin holds the franchise record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass with six.
--Defensive end Calais Campbell has talked to his teammates about blocking at least five field goals this season. He now has one, which led to a touchdown return for a score.
"And when you talk about something, people expect you to be the guy who does it," Campbell said. "It feels good to get in there and make a play."
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- That's the combined number of MVP awards won by Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You can't have plays like that. Putting the ball on the ground is forbidden. You have to get that M.O. off yourself as a football player and a running back. If teams know that you fumble, then they'll try to go to the ball all the time." -- Safety Adrian Wilson on running back Beanie Wells' two fumbles against the Jaguars last week.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Defensive lineman Alan Branch has developed into a valuable player because of his versatility. He can play both nose tackle and end, but has been playing mostly at end lately.
Safety Rashad Johnson, a rookie, made some mistakes in coverage late last week. He was playing in place of Matt Ware, who was out with a shoulder injury. Johnson is a promising player but he has a lot to learn.
The club has been going with seven active offensive linemen on game day. Jeremy Bridges can play both guard and tackle, and Ben Claxton is the backup center.
Defensive end Darnell Dockett is moving around the formation, playing end in the base defense and sometimes moving to the nose in passing situations.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--WR Steve Breaston is returning to health after struggling with a knee injury early. Breaston is an excellent third receiver who can make plays after the catch.
--OLB Chike Okeafor should be able to play this week after missing last week's game because of a sore shoulder. Bertrand Berry started in his place and had his second sack in as many weeks.
--RB LaRod Stephens-Howling is making a major contribution on special teams. He leads the team in special teams tackles with six and has been effective on kickoff coverage.
--SS Matt Ware's availability could be key this week. Ware missed last week with a shoulder injury. He plays in the team's dime packages. Without him, the role falls to rookie Rashad Johnson, who doesn't have as much experience.