"[The Cardinals] defense is effing worthless" and "if Neil Rackers has a job tomorrow I'm becoming a Saints fan" were two of several utterances that could be overheard at the Cadillac Ranch in Tempe by disgruntled fans after the Cards 45-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Saturday.
And they were two of the nicer comments we heard, and rightly so -- the Cardinals defense is in fact "effing worthless."
In the last two games, the Cardinals have given up 90 points and subsequently will not have a chance to re-claim the NFC championship and give themselves a second chance at a Super Bowl.
The Cards came out swinging, however, with a 70-yard touchdown run by Tim Hightower on the first play of the game.
On the Cardinals second play -- after the defense did a whole-lotta-nothing to stop the Saints first drive, which concluded with a one-yard touchdown run by Lynell Hamilton -- any momentum the Redbirds had quickly came to a halt after wide receiver Jerheme Urban fumbled what would have been about a 10-yard pass from Kurt Warner.
The Saints went on to score and didn't seem to stop scoring until the third quarter.
Cards fans had a brief scare toward the end of the first half after Kurt Warner threw an interception and then got absolutely crushed by a Saints defender as he tried to make a tackle on Saints defensive end Will Smith.
Before the game, Warner sat down with Fox football analyst and long-time Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw. The subject of retirement came up, and Bradshaw told Warner that his decision to retire was easy because it came as the result of an injury he suffered during what became the last game of his career. For anyone who missed the hit on Warner, it seemed (at the time) that his decision on retirement had been made for him, too. Thankfully, Warner was all right but left the game briefly to get checked out. In his absence, Matt Leinart took the helm.
In the past, we've had very little faith in Leinart's ability to do, well, anything. However, in the back of our minds, we were hoping for the B-squad QB to enter the game and lead the Redbirds to an improbable comeback, circa-Frank Reich and the 1993 Buffalo Bills. Warner came back into the game to start the third quarter so Leinart's chance to secure a spot in Cardinals playoff lore was out of the question, but he looked pretty good in the few minutes he got to play.
Leinart went seven for 10 and 61 yards in the loss and moved the ball far enough into Saints territory to set up a 50-yard field goal try for Neil Rackers at the end of the second quarter. Rackers missed the field goal -- twice.
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In an attempt to "ice" Rackers, Saints coach Sean Payton called a last-second timeout right before the snap. Rackers got the kick off before the officials blew the whistle and missed. Because Payton called a time out, Rackers had a second chance at the score and missed again.
For anyone who forgot about last week, Rackers missed a probable game-winning field goal against the Green Bay Packers. The missed kicks on Saturday weren't as important as the miss last week, but they raise the question: do the Cardinals need a new field goal kicker?
Saturday's loss put an end to the Cardinals' season and begins speculation into whether Kurt Warner will be returning as the Cards quarterback next year. Our guess is no. Warner's no idiot, but if he suffers one more concussion, he might be.
The other off-season situation for the Cardinals is going to be trying to put together a defense capable of making tackles -- consistently.