Saints wideout Michael Thomas catches a touchdown pass with Brandon Williams in coverage.
When Sunday's game against the Saints started, the Cardinals hadn't allowed 300 yards to an opposing passer in 2016.
By the time the shootout ended, Drew Brees had almost reached 400. New Orleans' star signal-caller dissected the Cardinals with precision in the Saints' 48-41 win, completing 37-of-48 passes for 389 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Cardinals entered the game ranked No. 1 in total defense and left licking their wounds after the aerial display. The Saints amassed 488 yards of total offense as the Cardinals allowed more points than in any other regular season game under coach Bruce Arians.
"Disappointing," defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. "We're all disappointed."
Arians said there were issues in the secondary but the biggest problem was the lack of pressure up front. The Cardinals couldn't get a great rush in part because New Orleans was running the ball well, and if a player like Brees has time, he's almost impossible to stop.
With the Cardinals relatively healthy on defense and banged up on offense, Arians didn't foresee offensive fireworks.
"Not at all," Arians said. "Not with the guys we had playing. I'm extremely proud of the guys on the offensive line and shocked that we gave up that many points."
The toughest player to cover was Saints wideout Brandin Cooks, who had seven catches for 186 yards and sped away from safety D.J. Swearinger and then safety Tyrann Mathieu for 65- and 45-yard touchdowns.
Cornerback Patrick Peterson shadowed Cooks some of the time, but not always, and when Peterson moved onto Cooks heavily in the second half, other players stepped up.
"They move him around a ton and they have three exceptional receivers," Bettcher said. "There's no question about. Between (Willie) Snead and (Michael) Thomas, they have a lot of really good, potent guys on offense."
PALMER EXPECTS TO PLAY IN 2017
There has been plenty of chatter about the future of quarterback Carson Palmer. After the team's final home game of the season on Sunday, he was asked about playing next season.
"I haven't even thought about that, but I expect to," Palmer said. "I'd like to."
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was also asked about his future but was noncommittal.
"I got two more games to go (this season)," Fitzgerald said. "I will play those games as hard as I can against two division opponents and we will see what goes on this offseason. My attention is solely focused on Seattle this Saturday."
Palmer and Fitzgerald are both under contract for 2017.
KERWYNN WILLIAMS LOSES SHOE, FINDS END ZONE
Kerwynn Williams was more prominently involved in the game-plan than usual and he made the most of his opportunity. The Cardinals' backup running back had three carries for 63 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown out of the Wildcat formation.
Williams faked a handoff to David Johnson and bolted to his right. As he found a hole and raced upfield, his shoe was ripped off, but Williams stayed upright and ran the last half of the way without it.
"I really was just not trying to slip," Williams said. "That would have been embarrassing."
When did he know the shoe came off?
"Right when (linebacker Craig Robertson) went for the tackle it was gone and I knew it," Williams said. "I knew something was different. My feet are flat but not that flat."