A dazed Kurt Warner (left) is led off the field while Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie needed help after both were hurt in Sunday's 45-14 loss.
NEW ORLEANS – The injuries came quick, shredding the secondary and then scaring the quarterback.
The Cardinals were loathe to talk about how the injuries hurt them Saturday against the Saints – "We can't say one guy was hurt so we lost," linebacker Karlos Dansby said. "We can't do that" – but there was little question they had an impact.
Already without wide receiver Anquan Boldin and linebacker Gerald Hayes, the Cardinals first lost safety Antrel Rolle to a concussion and then cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a serious left knee injury. Both happened early in the first quarter of the 45-14 loss.
Later, quarterback Kurt Warner was blown up on a blindside block by Saints defensive end Bobby McCray following a Warner interception, sending Warner out of the game for a possession while he got X-rays to determine he had bruised ribs.
Defensive tackle Gabe Watson also hurt his knee.
Rolle will be OK, as will Warner. Rodgers-Cromartie will have an MRI Sunday, but he said he believes he tore ligaments, which would require surgery and significant rehab.
The absence of Rolle and Rodgers-Cromartie didn't help a defense that had struggled the second half of the Wild Card game against Green Bay and then couldn't seem to slow the Saints Saturday.
"We played two pretty good offenses," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We were playing with a depleted secondary, and that hurt us. (The Saints) exploited those matchups."
BLOW WON'T AFFECT WARNER'S RETIREMENT CHOICE
McCray found Warner after the game to tell the quarterback he wanted to make sure Warner was OK and that he would say a prayer for the quarterback.
"That was cool," Warner said.
But that didn't make the crushing block any easier to take. Warner couldn't breathe after it happened, causing some panic. But later, Warner – who finished 17-of-26 for 205 yards before yielding to backup Matt Leinart – was able to laugh when it was suggested McCray's hit could push him toward the retirement he has been contemplating.
"Every time you take a hit like that it makes you think twice about playing this game," Warner said. "But something like that, or even this game, will not be the determining factor in my decision. You put everything in a big basket and weigh the pros and cons. It comes down to what I want to do going forward. What's the best thing for me? One game, one hit is not going to determine it."
Warner said he does not have a target date on his decision.
"I don't have a target date but I am going to get away," Warner said. "I have thought about it a lot and have some ideas in my head, but want to get away from the season for a minute and make sure what you're feeling stays that way. I don't think it will be a long drawn-out thing. I wouldn't want to do that to an organization."
HIGHTOWER'S HOME RUN
The best part of the Cardinals' day came on the game's opening play, when running back Tim Hightower snapped off the longest run of his career, a 70-yard touchdown that seemed to portend big things for the Cards.
"On the road, you've got to make big plays," Hightower said. "Start fast and that's what we did. If you would have told me (after the TD run) that game would have ended like that, I would not have believed you for a second."
Added wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, "We were encouraged early with Tim's big run, but obviously it didn't work out the way we wanted it to."
The Saints were confident they wouldn't be done it so early.
"You don't win or lose the game on the first play," Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma said.
BOLDIN WON'T ASK FOR TRADE
Boldin told the Miami Herald after the game he won't ask for a trade this offseason. Boldin has one year left on his contract, but after trying to either get moved or get a contract extension in each of the last two offseasons, he sounded resigned to the fact he can't control the situation.
"I can't do anything one way or the other," Boldin said. "If I go to them and request a trade, it don't matter. I'm under contract for another year. So no matter what I say or do, that won't change anything. I'm under contract for another year. So whatever happens, it depends on what the Cardinals want to do. I'm not worried about it at all."
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