Larry Fitzgerald looks for blockers on his one catch Thursday night during a 19-0 loss to the Broncos in Denver (AP photo).
DENVER – The wish was to wipe away some of the bad taste left lingering from the Cardinals' third preseason game.
The wish didn't completely come true.
The result of the Cards' eventual 19-0 loss to the Broncos at Invesco Field meant nothing, not in the final preseason game, not with backups playing much of the game, and not with practically zero gameplanning.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt wanted more than what he got, but he didn't sound like someone ruing the beginning of the games that count.
"This game is so difficult (to judge) because you're playing so many young people," Whisenhunt said, acknowledging the offense in particular was out of sync.
"I still feel good about our football team and the work we have been doing. You wanted to see a little smoother start on both sides of the ball but it was a little better than last week. At least we weren't down 28 at the half."
While the immediate concern for a chunk of the roster is the looming cuts – Whisenhunt will likely announce those Friday afternoon – those who will remain have to be wondering about, not a winless preseason but the way it unfolded.
Quarterback Kurt Warner played the entire first quarter and three series, an extensive amount in a fourth preseason game for a veteran Pro Bowler. While the goal was for Warner to gain some kind of rhythm, Warner completed just 2-of-7 passes for 48 yards and his final throw was an interception into traffic.
"I feel worse this week," Warner said, comparing it to the Packers game. "I was frustrated. I never felt I got into a rhythm today for whatever reason."
Whisenhunt said he left Warner in because the Cards simply didn't get enough plays. It "backfired," Whisenhunt said with a smile, because of Warner's pick, which came when Warner didn't see the defender.
After the Cards' lone big play of the night – a 36-yard catch-and-run by Larry Fitzgerald, his lone catch – Fitzgerald got emotionally riled up on his sideline, trying to inspire his teammates.
"We were trying to get into a little rhythm and we just weren't sharp," Fitzgerald said. "It's disappointing."
Backup Matt Leinart, who played so well the week before, completed just 1-of-4 for four yards, and his final throw too was intercepted when he overthrew Jerheme Urban.
Whisenhunt said Leinart's shoulder was bothering him still and was a likely factor on the interception.
The defense, which struggled so much against the Packers a week ago, gave up just a field goal in two series. At the same time, the Broncos (1-3) had their top two quarterbacks – Kyle Orton and Chris Simms – out with injury, leaving rookie sixth-round pick Tom Brandstater to start. The big play to set up the field goal was a 43-yard pass to Chad Jackson, who beat cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the play.
Whisenhunt said he didn't like allowing the big play but praised his defense for holding up in the red zone.
Still, said safety Adrian Wilson, "We've got to find a way out of this funk because we're not making enough plays."
The Cardinals will begin practicing for the regular season Monday, having pared down their roster significantly. In some ways, this team could use the gravity of the regular season to adjust the focus.
"I'm excited but at the same time I'm worried because of the things that have happened in the preseason," Wilson said. "Hopefully we can get this thing turned around."
Added Warner, "I don't leave excited of where we leave off the preseason. I am looking forward to gameplanning and putting in some plays that we haven't really done in the preseason … but there has been too much lack of detail. We have to correct those things."
E. BROWN EJECTED
Reserve guard Elton Brown was ejected after the final play of the first half, when he was flagged for bumping an official.
"I don't think it was intentional at all," Whisenhunt said, noting Brown was angry at a Bronco defender for a perceived cheap shot on quarterback Tyler Palko. "He certainly didn't go after the official, but in those situations, you have to be concerned about the safety of the official, obviously."
Safety Matt Ware (left shoulder) and cornerback Wilrey Fontenot (head) each left the game because of injury and did not return. Wide receiver Jerheme Urban twisted his left knee, but he returned to the game and said it wasn't serious. Linebacker Will Davis (left foot) also returned.
The Cardinals held six players out of the game: wide receivers Anquan Boldin (hamstring) and Early Doucet (ribs), cornerbacks Bryant McFadden (ankle) and Ralph Brown (ankle), quarterback Brian St. Pierre (back) and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (concussion).