Running back Tim Hightower gets loose for some of his 115 yards rushing Sunday during a loss in Atlanta to the Falcons.
ATLANTA – It was, statistically, Tim Hightower's best game ever, and it came a week after losing two crucial fumbles.
Yet there was only so much satisfaction the running back could take after the Cardinals were pounded, 41-7, by the Falcons Sunday.
"It's bittersweet," said Hightower, who rushed for 115 yards on just 11 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown sprint that was the franchise's longest since 1958.
"I play this game to win. That's first and foremost. You want days like this, but … I don't think anyone would be happy with a performance like that in a loss like that."
With Beanie Wells sitting out for the second straight game with his bad knee, Hightower was again the Cards' workhorse – although he couldn't stay that way. His long scoring run did slice the Falcons' early lead to 10-7, but the Cards were unable to slow the Falcons' offense and eventually Hightower was a non-factor.
The Cards only had 13 rush attempts. Jason Wright had the other two; LaRod Stephens-Howling caught three passes but did not have a carry.
"We wanted to come in and run the football but you make it hard on yourself," Hightower said.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt had promised all week Hightower would find a way to bounce back after his first-game fumble issues.
"Tim's run was big and put us back in the game," Whisenhunt said. "When you talk about of player responding, it's good to see him do it like that."
The hope is that Wells will finally be able to return next week against Oakland in the home opener. Hightower is off to a solid start, however, with 169 yards on 24 carries in two games.
"Hopefully next week I can have another one of these games in a win and make it a lot more enjoyable," Hightower said.
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was tested a lot more often Sunday than he was in Week One, covering star Falcons receiver Roddy White much of the time. He couldn't get to White on White's touchdown reception. DRC was also called for a pair of pass interference calls – the first being questionable on a third-and-13 play that kept a drive alive, the second coming when it looked like the ball may have been uncatchable.
"Was I frustrated? Hell no," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "I don't get frustrated. I just go out there and play the players. I had a couple pass interference calls. You're gonna have games like that. The thing you do, you get in the film room and you get better from it."
Rookie quarterback Max Hall made his NFL debut in the fourth quarter. Starter Derek Anderson had been pounded much of the game and a couple of times looked like he might not be able to continue. But Whisenhunt said Hall was used because of the lopsided score.
"We wanted to try and get Max a couple snaps," Whisenhunt said. "I'd hoped to we'd have more chances at the end, but we didn't."
As for Anderson, "That position, unfortunately for the quarterback, when they bring blitzes, they are going to take some shots," Whisenhunt added. "We have to do a better job of protecting (Anderson)."
Said Anderson, "You have to get the body healed up. You don't have time to worry about it."
The Cardinals reported no injuries after the game. Wide receiver Steve Breaston did limp off at one point, but returned almost immediately. …
Safety Kerry Rhodes had a difficult day bookended by penalties. He committed a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Falcons' first drive of the game, and then was ejected late in the fourth quarter when he put his hand on an official's shoulder to dispute a call.
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