Tim Rattay calls a play in the huddle after being brought in at quarterback during the Cardinals' 25-10 loss to Carolina Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Cardinals thought about signing Vinny Testaverde last week. They did sign Tim Rattay.
But the Cards never thought either quarterback would be playing Sunday when the Carolina Panthers visited University of Phoenix Stadium.
Instead both played. And that was terrible news for the Cardinals, because it meant Kurt Warner had gotten hurt – just a week after starting quarterback Matt Leinart had his season ended with a broken collarbone.
Warner tore ligaments in his left (non-throwing) elbow on Arizona's third offensive series of the game, forcing Rattay in the game and resulting in the overriding storyline of a painful 25-10 Carolina victory in front of 64,403 fans.
Warner will get an MRI Monday and repeatedly said he was optimistic he would return. The Cardinals, who have a bye week after playing at Washington next weekend, were already expected to sign Tim Hasselbeck early this week.
While Rattay struggled in his new role, Testaverde did just enough for the Panthers to send the Cardinals (3-3) to their first home loss of the season.
"We moved (the ball) a little bit but we didn't move it nearly well enough," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We couldn't do a lot of the things in the pass game we had planned. That is not an excuse. We have enough good players, we have to make those plays."
Whisenhunt lamented the poor plays (multiple dropped passes) and the penalties (nine for 83 in the second half).
Rattay finished 12-of-24 for 159 yards and three interceptions, with 42 of the yards coming on a last-gasp bomb to Jerheme Urban on the game's final play. Testaverde, meanwhile, finished 20-of-33 for 206 yards and one huge touchdown.
"Both teams were in pretty much the same situation," Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson said. "Both teams were down to second, third-string quarterbacks, so there are really no excuses."
The Cardinals had been nursing a 10-9 lead for a chunk of the second half when a Mike Barr punt pinned the Panthers (4-2) at the Carolina 10-yard line.
It took two plays to change the complexion of the game.
Wilson was called for a 25-yard pass interference play on Panthers receiver Keary Colbert. And on the next play, Testaverde found a wide-open Steve Smith for a 65-yard touchdown.
Cardinals cornerback Rod Hood took the blame on the play, saying he was playing the wrong coverage.
"I had a mental lapse that cost us the game," Hood said.
The game unraveled after that.
Rattay's first pass on the ensuing possession went through the hands of tight end Leonard Pope and was intercepted by Carolina's Ken Lucas. That led to a field goal to fatten the lead to eight.
Rattay made a couple of completions on the next series, but a deep pass to Jehreme Urban glanced off Urban's hands, was batted briefly and then intercepted by Carolina's Deke Cooper at the Panthers 11 with 3:19 left.
DeAngelo Williams found a crease on the next snap and raced 75 yards on a back-breaking play.
"That was just a function we were disappointed we were in that situation," Whisenhunt said of Williams' ability to break the long run. "That happens. Certainly we don't want that to happen."
Edgerrin James had a 23-yard touchdown run early in the game and seemed primed for a huge day. But the Panthers' defense eventually began to key on James, who finished with 80 yards on 22 carries.
Thanks to Williams' long run, he became the second straight opponent to gain 100 yards rushing (121 on 10 carries).
Smith finished with 136 yards on 10 catches as the 43-year-old Testaverde's security blanket.
"It means a lot to win, especially under the circumstances," said Testaverde, forced to play when David Carr's bad back forced him to the sideline. "There were a lot of challenges for me coming in on short notice. I'm just glad (my teammates) believed a guy my age could come in and help them win."
Cardinals center Al Johnson said the team was hurt by its inability to go to the no-huddle offense to spark itself, something it had been able to do when Warner was available. Rattay said he talked with coaches pregame to discuss the plays he was comfortable with should he go in and the plays he didn't want to call.
Then Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers broke out of his sack-less doldrums to get to Warner twice. The second forced a fumble that Warner tried in vain to reach with his left arm – getting it trapped under Peppers for a moment and ruining his elbow.
"I'd like to know the history of when the last two quarterbacks played the whole game and were signed on Tuesday," Johnson said.
The Cards had been hoping it wouldn't have come to that.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 10/14/07