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Leinart Gets Some Playing Time

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Backup quarterback Matt Leinart attempts a pass during the Cardinals' 47-7 loss to the Patriots Sunday in New England.

FOXBORO, Mass. – Matt Leinart finally got in a game, and he couldn't hear anything.

The Cardinals' backup quarterback, who lost the starting job to Kurt Warner in the preseason, relieved Warner in the second half of Arizona's 47-7 loss to New England Sunday. But when he was sent in, the earpiece in his helmet used to hear the playcalls could only generate a loud buzz.

"The first series, it was static the whole time," Leinart said. "It was like I had earphones on listening to music really loud. That's why I took my helmet off twice in the huddle to call plays."

Eventually, the Cards took the earpiece out. Leinart had some issues, throwing an interception and losing a fumble on a sack, but he did find Larry Fitzgerald on a 78-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Leinart finished 6-for-14 for 138 yards.

It was Leinart's third appearance in a game this season, after brief showings against Miami and Minnesota.

"(The static) really made it difficult early," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I was a tough situation when we were down. I like the way he hung in there at the end."

FACTORING THE WEATHER

Rookies Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Early Doucet had never seen snow before the weekend in New England, and few players embraced playing in the weather. But Whisenhunt quickly downplayed the effect the snow had in the game, and his players were quick to follow suit.

Starting quarterback Kurt Warner said he didn't think it played much of a factor. Guard Reggie Wells called it "an excuse." "They just beat us straight up," he said.

Heavy snow fell through most of the first half, although it subsided right about halftime after the Patriots had built a 31-0 lead and had a 270-55 edge in yardage.

Linebacker Karlos Dansby said getting traction was the Cards' biggest obstacle on defense.

"They didn't do nothing special," Dansby said. "They got into a pushing pile, the running backs just getting behind the linemen and falling forward, and all of a sudden they'd break one."

Patriots guard Logan Mankins said the Cardinals, as a passing team, were going to be affected.

"They're not used to the snow," Mankins said. "Maybe a sandstorm or something."

TRYING TO RUN

The Cardinals ran the ball on their first six offensive plays and eight of their first nine. On their second series, three runs by Tim Hightower produced a first down – except the third down run was wiped out on a questionable hands-to-the-face call on fullback Terrelle Smith. Smith called the penalty "crazy" and TV replays didn't seem to show a foul.

While the weather seemed to favor a running style, Whisenhunt said the plan was to run no matter what.

"We wanted to work on our running game," Whisenhunt said. "It was important to us early to try and get some of those things going. We would have done that regardless of the weather."

INJURY REPORT

The Cardinals had several players on the postgame injury list, including starting cornerback Rod Hood, who hurt his left knee. Also on the list were tight end Stephen Spach (right ankle), defensive lineman Kenny Iwebema (concussion), safety Aaron Francisco (rib contusion) and safety Matt Ware (calf strain).

EXTRA POINTS

Steve Breaston tied a franchise record with nine kickoff returns in the game. …

With his 10th touchdown of the season, Fitzgerald became the Cards' first player with back-to-back double-digit touchdown seasons since Stump Mitchell did it in 1994-95.


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 12/21/08.

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