Linebacker Gerald Hayes ponders the Cards' fate during Arizona's 56-35 loss in New York to the Jets Sunday.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A week on the East Coast was supposed to help prepare the Cardinals for their game Sunday in New York.
Nothing could have readied the Cards for what actually happened.
Not only did the Cardinals suffer a 56-35 loss to the New York Jets at Giants Stadium, but Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin was carted off the field with 27 seconds left in the game after being sandwiched between two Jets and enduring a blow to the face by Jets defensive back Eric Smith.
Boldin was strapped to a stretcher – helmet still on – and taken to a Manhattan hospital for further tests. But he was alert and talking in the locker room and had wanted to avoid being carted off until medical staff insisted otherwise.
Boldin will stay at the hospital until cleared. Owner Bill Bidwill and president Michael Bidwill will also stay behind and come back to Arizona with Boldin when it is time.
"That was just a scary, scary play and I can't get it out of my mind," somber quarterback Kurt Warner said.
It was a terrible ending to what had already been a bad day. Dissolving into a puddle of turnovers in the first half – five, four by Warner – the Jets battered the Cards and built a 34-0 halftime lead.
Warner had another lost fumble and another interception in the second half. The Cardinals (2-2) did embark on a second-half rally, scoring 21 straight points to narrow the gap to 13 in the third quarter. They never got any closer.
Warner ended up throwing for 472 yards (completing 40-of-57 passes) and had a pair of touchdown throws, but the turnovers were too much to overcome.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the Cards didn't protect Warner well enough and dismissed any idea that he would bench Warner or be concerned about Warner's ball security.
Warner hadn't lost a fumble and thrown just one interception in the first three games.
"I didn't think (Warner) was the issue," Whisenhunt said.
Jets quarterback Brett Favre, meanwhile, threw six touchdown passes, a career-high.
"We gave him five of those touchdowns," frustrated safety Antrel Rolle said.
While Favre overcame an early poor interception thrown to linebacker Chike Okeafor to toss three first-half touchdowns, Warner never got past a fumble on the Cards' first drive – even though Arizona kept the ball.
Warner threw his first interception early in the second quarter to Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who jogged into the end zone on a 32-yard return and a 14-0 lead.
A punt later, the Jets (2-2) needed four plays to score the touchdown to make it 21-0, ripping off gains of 19, 17 and 13 yards before Laveranues Coles caught a 34-yard touchdown pass as Eric Green – the man supposed to be covering Coles – lie in a heap on the turf having sprained his right knee.
Coles ended up with three touchdown catches, all in the second quarter.
Warner threw his second pick on the next offensive play. That set up a field goal. Warner was crushed by former Cardinal Calvin Pace on a sack on the next drive, and Warner lost a fumble. That set up a touchdown.
Then, with 10 seconds left in the half, Warner had the ball knocked from his hands again, and the Jets fell on it to set up a gift field goal.
"When we make mistakes," Whisenhunt said, "it's difficult to win."
Warner was sharp running the no-huddle offense in the second half – the Cards marched down to get two short rushing touchdowns by Edgerrin James and one from Tim Hightower – but the deficit was impossible to bridge.
Coles, who came into the game questionable with a thigh injury, finished with eight catches for 105 yards. The Cardinals, thanks to the big hole they found themselves in, had three 100-yard receivers – Boldin had 10 catches for 119 yards, Larry Fitzgerald had eight for 122 and Steve Breaston had nine for 122.
It was by far Breaston's best day as a pro.
The Cards find themselves back at .500 having lost both their East Coast games. Next up are two home games, although both teams – Buffalo next week, Dallas Oct. 12 – are playing well and the Bills are undefeated.
They are hoping Boldin is OK. They are certainly hoping to be done with their extended road trip.
"I am so ready to get on that plane and go home," cornerback Eric Green said.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 9/28/08. Updated 9/28/08.