|Kurt Warner's career day|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 28 September 2008 13:13|
His stats for the 56-35 loss to the Jets tell the story: 472 yards passing, the second most of his career, but also five turnovers: three fumbles lost and two interceptions. All the turnovers came in the first half, the main reason the Cardinals trailed 34-0 at intermission.
This was a game between aging gunslingers with five MVP awards between them: 37-year-old Warner and the Jets' Brett Favre, who will turn 39 in less than two weeks.
It demonstrated the difference.
Favre, the Hall of Famer-to-be, threw a career-high six touchdown passes and one characteristic crazy interception, a ball thrown horizontally across the field to waiting Cardinal Chike Okeafor. Warner, the unknown Horatio Alger who emerged from the backwaters of the Arena League and NFL Europe to lead the Rams to a title in 1999, was his eternally fragile self, a turnover waiting to happen for an opponent who gets any kind of pass rush on him.
That's what happened Sunday.
It started on the Cardinals' first drive, when Warner drove his team from his 21 to the Jets 9. Then Shaun Ellis broke through, sacked him at the 21 and knocked the ball loose for teammate Hank Poteat.
Favre's mistake followed, allowing Arizona to drive to the 8. On third-and-2, the Jets got in Warner's face, he was called for intentional grounding, and after the ball was moved back to the 19, Neil Rackers' field-goal attempt was blocked.
``If we had scored then ...'' Warner said as his voice trailed off.
It was over by the second quarter when New York scored 34 points, including a 32-yard interception return for a score by Darrelle Revis. He baited an unhurried Warner by lurking behind second-year tight end Ben Patrick, grabbing the ball and dancing untouched to the end zone to make it 14-0.
The end of the half was fitting. With 10 seconds left, Warner declined to take a knee, was sacked by David Bowens and fumbled at his 12, where Bowens recovered.
Jay Feely kicked a 30-yard field goal and it was 34-0.
Everyone expected Matt Leinart would be in for the second half, getting experience in a blowout.
``Why?'' asked Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt. ``Kurt didn't get any protection. The only one that was his fault was the interception that they got for a touchdown. If we can't protect him, he can't win.''
ually got the Cardinals within 34-21 with 2:50 left in the third quarter. Then Favre went to work again.
Warner didn't really want to talk about any of that. He was more concerned about the injury late in the game to Anquan Boldin, one of his two outstanding receivers.
Boldin, hit on the helmet by the Jets' Eric Smith as they were both diving for a pass, was carted off the field. He was moving his extremities and was hospitalized for precautionary reasons.
It shook up everyone, most of all Warner.
``It was a scary, scary play,'' said Warner, who sustained a concussion against the Giants in the opening game of the 2003 season and never got his job back with the Rams from Marc Bulger.
``No matter how badly you play, you want to come out healthy.''
The year after that concussion, Warner was back at the Meadowlands to help break in Eli Manning with the Giants. He got them off to a 5-2 start, was plagued by turnovers in two straight losses, and Tom Coughlin, New York's new coach, handed the starting job to Manning.
His role in Arizona is different.
Whisenhunt has been slower to start Leinart, another prize youngster. Last season, he alternated them until Leinart was hurt. This season, he handed the job to Warner.
Favre thinks Leinart has the perfect mentor.
``I just told him to keep going,'' Favre said he told his counterpart after the game.
ing well and we go back a long way. His track has obviously been a little bit different than mine. It's great for Matt Leinart, who is going to be a superstar for a long time, to play behind Kurt, who I think is not only a very good player but a very good person.''
A good person absolutely. In Favre's class as a quarterback, not quite.