Wide receiver Stephen Williams hauls in a 37-yard reception from Derek Anderson during the Cards' 24-10 loss in Tennessee Monday night.
NASHVILLE – Matt Leinart insisted he wasn't concerned but took the blame for the starting offense's inability to move the ball Monday night.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he wasn't happy about the inertia but said he wasn't panicking about the situation.
The Cardinals lost to the Tennessee Titans, 24-10, Monday night at LP Field, but like most preseason games, the score wasn't the story. This time, it was hard to ignore the first-unit's struggles to move the ball with Leinart behind center, tangibly told with no first downs in three possessions. The Titans did blitz more than most for a preseason game, but across the board, the Cards (1-1) acknowledged they should have dealt with it better than they did.
"You want to move the ball better, but … we will clean it up," Leinart said. "You bring pressure you make the best of it and you take what they give you.
"You don't game plan in preseason and there are some things they will get you on. But there is no excuse. You have to move the ball better and it falls on the quarterback."
The Cardinals were playing without starting receiver Larry Fitzgerald (knee) and third receiver Early Doucet (abdomen), but there were chances. Leinart, who completed 4-of-6 passes for just 28 yards, had a big chance on his final throw. But a long pass down the field to open rookie Stephen Williams – ended up short and on the opposite shoulder where Williams was looking.
Leinart was also under constant pressure during his stint, and the running game was held to negative-four yards on three Tim Hightower carries. Running back Beanie Wells did not play while Leinart was in the game.
Second-string quarterback Derek Anderson, who was brought in to play with the rest of the starters, burst into the game with a beautiful 37-yard completion to Williams. But he overthrew an open Steve Breaston in the end zone on first down, and his pass to Williams in the end zone on a third-down slant was behind Williams. The Cards settled for a field goal.
Anderson ended up completing 11-of-19 passes for 105 yards, although his passing rating was actually slightly lower, 77.1 to 73.4, than Leinart.
"Not our best effort tonight," Whisenhunt said. "We had opportunities and we didn't get that done. They brought pressure early in the game and when that happens, you have to make plays down the field.
"I expected us to handle it better than we did."
The Titans (1-1) built s 24-3 lead before rookie quarterback Max Hall came in to make his preseason debut. Hall completed 7-of-15 passes for 101 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The touchdown – a 22-yarder to fellow rookie Max Komar – was the lone TD of the game for the Cards.
"We had opportunities with all our quarterbacks," Whisenhunt said. "I'm not panicked about it. It's a process you have to go through. What is encouraging is we had opportunities to make plays and we just didn't execute."
The not-panicked part seemed to permeate the locker room, although there is an understanding a limited game plan does not excuse poor play.
"You don't want to sit there and try to say it's OK," Breaston said. "You understand it's preseason but you understand you have to put up a fight, put up effort. You have to make adjustments. You can't just sit there and chalk it up. You have to play football.
"We have to execute what we do have (in the game plan). We've got two more preseason games and fortunately, one's right around the corner."
The Cards remain in Nashville this week before flying to Chicago Friday for a Saturday night game against the Bears.
Inevitably, questions over which quarterback – Leinart or Anderson – should start will continue to hover. Leinart, as he said last week, understands the scrutiny. He believes he will produce when needed.
"I take full responsibility," Leinart said. "The gameplan is small, it's like that everywhere. I'm not worried about it. I know I need to play better. You've got to move the ball. That's the bottom line."
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