The New Orleans Saints dominated in every phase to hand the Arizona Cardinals a 45-14 loss at the noisy Superdome. The Saints defense kept the Cardinals in check, off balance and questioning everything. On the flip side, the Saints offense surged behind their motivated and powerful running back, Reggie Bush. Not to mention the 247 yards and three touchdown passes off the cannon of Drew Brees.
The Cardinals performance kept with the theme of the season. Two steps forward, one step back. Arizona's two biggest wins of the season (Giants and Vikings) were followed by big-time losses (Panthers and 49ers). The Cardinals historical win over the Packers followed the story line.
The Saints read the book. They discovered Kurt Warner's number quickly. They easily broke past the shabby offensive line and frustrated Warner early. Down the field, injuries depleted the already thinned secondary (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Antrel Rolle). Despite a respectable performance by rookie Greg Toler, the Cardinals secondary didn't know what hit it. Overall, the Cardinals defense recorded no sacks and no picks.
The Cardinals needed to bring the kitchen sink. Instead, the Saints threw them away with yesterday's trash. Warner tried to be a defensive playmaker after he was picked off. He took a big-time hit instead. Warner was laid out, which put Matt Leinart in the game to end the half and to end the game. Leinart's interview went so-so. He completed seven out of 10 passes, which was good for 61 yards. Once again, he had no touchdowns but no interceptions either.
Larry Fitzgerald, who had a team-high 77 yards, also made the so-so list. The scoreboard reflects the Cardinals inability to get him the ball. Throughout the season, the Cardinals struggled to hit Fitzgerald down the stretch. Those long plays, which have been synonymous with Arizona, were missing in Saturday's game.
Early Doucet stepped up in both Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin's absence, but he could only do so much. He tallied just 68 yards on eight catches.
Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower scored the only two Cardinals touchdowns. Hightower put the Cardinals in a good position, when he scored on their first play from scrimmage. In this case, the early bird didn't get the worm.
The Cardinals loss could be Warner's last. He just might end his career the same way he it started, on the bench. But Warner's exceptional career and inspiring character is nothing to cough at. The retirement speculation should continue for some time, as he sorts through the decision with himself, God and his family. At the end of the day, he has a career he can hang his helmet on.
See you in Canton Warner.
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