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Set a Record, Quiet The Critics

Posted Sep 20, 2009

Urban: As promised, Warner and Cards' offense finds groove

Quarterback Kurt Warner completes one of his 24 passes Sunday in a 31-17 victory over Jacksonville. Warner set a record for completion percentage in a game.
 
 
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Maybe the humidity had gotten to Kurt Warner, or the sore shoulder that was the reason coach Ken Whisenhunt took Warner out of Sunday’s game – for precautionary reasons only – but Warner seemed tired afterward.

It was a happy tired. That made sense. The Cardinals had won, 31-17, Warner had set an NFL record for completion percentage in a game and his team’s offense clicked the way it was supposed to.

But he came across as weary when he was asked about that record, and if it meant anything to him.
 
“I don’t know, probably that everyone thinks I’m a little younger than I was last week,” Warner said with a smile, referring back to his comments in the previous days about outsiders believing after his bumpy opening performance was age-related.

“(Records) are an honor and anytime you accomplish something that is the best or the first time in NFL history, it is humbling, but at the same time you know a lot of things go into that,” Warner said. “From protection to guys making plays to guys making great catches. But it was nice after the way I played last week.”

Warner completed 24 of 26 passes, a 92.3 percentage, topping the 91.3 percent one-time near-teammate Vinny Testaverde ( the Cards tried to sign Testaverde in 2007 when Matt Leinart got hurt) accomplished for the Browns in 1993 against the Rams when he went 21-for-23.

No one can be wondering what Warner has left, or whether there should be a Leinart start in the near future.

Warner did it with a sore shoulder too, one that may bear watching. Warner isn’t the kind of guy who likes to come out of games, but Warner said he went to Whisenhunt Sunday to tell him he wouldn’t mind taking a seat with such a big lead. Warner ended up with what Whisenhunt calls a stinger late in the first half against San Francisco and it bothered Warner during the week.

“I didn’t want to put him at risk,” Whisenhunt said.

So Sunday, with the Cards ahead 31-3 (Leinart was warming up to go in as the Jaguars scored a touchdown to make it 31-10), Whisenhunt took Warner out. And in all honesty, Whisenhunt thought about bringing Warner back in had the Jaguars scored another touchdown.

“I was (but) it wasn’t Matt’s fault,” Whisenhunt said. “But once again, the reason I took Kurt out was not anything other than I felt at the time I wanted to make sure he was OK.”

Warner also praised Leinart’s play, and Leinart does look so much comfortable on the field these days. He was 3-for-6 and missed out on a potential 20-yarder when a throw was a bit high but catchable when Larry Fitzgerald couldn’t haul it in on the sideline.

Still, this was Warner’s day. He wasn’t sacked, he wasn’t intercepted, both Steve Breaston and Anquan Boldin played effectively (they were the top two receivers with eight and five catches, respectively) and there was a general sigh of relief because this was the offense for which everyone was waiting.

“That’s exactly how you want it to look,” said Fitzgerald, who had just four catches for 34 yards but caught a touchdown pass in his eighth straight game including the postseason.

That was how it looks when Warner “operates,” Whisenhunt said.

Balls bounced the right way at times. A pass to Fitzgerald glanced off his hands and went right to Boldin, turning an incompletion into a 19-yard gain. Then again, Warner completed his first 15 passes. Boldin got the work early when Fitzgerald was under wraps, Breaston in the middle of the game, and Fitz was worked in late. The running game even looked good, with starter Tim Hightower gaining 72 yards on only 15 carries and Beanie Wells – overlooking the two fumbles for a moment – showing more star potential with his 44 yards on seven totes.

The Jaguars never really had a chance.

“That’s what this offense has been about,” Warner said, “when we are at the top of our game.”
 
 
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