TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -That decision to make Kurt Warner the Arizona Cardinals' starting quarterback over Matt Leinart doesn't look so controversial now.
Warner's play is reminiscent of his heady days as Super Bowl champion and league MVP with the St. Louis Rams.
``I'm feeling like I'm playing as well as I ever have,'' the 37-year-old quarterback said Monday. ``I feel like I'm seeing the field, making good decisions, protecting the ball probably better than I ever have. I feel really good about where I'm playing right now.''
Eight weeks into the season, Warner leads the NFL in completion percentage (70.2) and ranks second in completions (184), attempts (262) and yards passing (2,089). Only Phillip Rivers of San Diego and Tony Romo of Dallas have a better quarterback rating than Warner's 102.1.
``With the exception of one game, I think he's played excellent football for us,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ``He is doing a great job of managing the game, getting rid of the ball and running our offense.''
rolina, Warner completed 35 of 49 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns. The lone blemish was an interception that ended a crucial second-half drive. On that play, Warner threw the ball high and it bounced off intended receiver J.J. Arrington's hands high into the air, where it was picked off by Jon Beason.
``I thought yesterday was one of the better games he's played from the standpoint of his ability to move in the pocket and his ability to protect the ball,'' Whisenhunt said.
The lone stinker on Warner's resume this season was his seven-turnover performance in a 56-35 loss to the New York Jets. Even in that one, he came back to direct seven consecutive touchdown drives in a second-half comeback.
The Cardinals coaching staff often has given Warner the freedom to call plays at the line of scrimmage. That was especially true in the Carolina game, where Warner repeatedly called short passes when he noticed the Panthers were using an extra man to stop the running game or get added pressure on the passer.
That meant one-on-one coverage, at times by a linebacker, on either Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin or Steve Breaston.
``A lot of the game was us up at the line of scrimmage and me deciding what play I wanted to run and calling the play,'' Warner said.
When he's given that freedom, he said, there are times when ``I feel like we are unstoppable.''
Sunday against a Carolina defense that had been the NFL's best against the pass.
``We felt very good with what we were doing and the packages that we had,'' Warner said. ``We felt like we had them on their heels. We felt like we couldn't be stopped, that we could just move the ball down the field whenever we wanted to.''
And they did, except when the interception or Edgerrin James' fumble stopped them.
Boldin said he knows the Cardinals would have scored if they had been able to stop Carolina on its last possession.
The flip side of Warner's big passing day, though, was Arizona's continued struggles with the running game. The Cardinals gained 50 yards on 14 carries, and 30 of those yards came on Boldin's end around.
James carried seven times for 17 yards.
Whisenhunt said he would consider giving rookie Tim Hightower more carries. James, in brief comments to reporters, said he wouldn't protest such a move.
``That's the way it was heading anyway,'' he said, ``so it's cool.''
James said he had been ``put into a position to fail'' but he declined to elaborate, saying that people would take it the wrong way.
``Being that it's me, the perception has not worked in my favor,'' he said, ``so it's always going to be taken that way. That's why it's best for me to just not answer questions.''

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