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Stormed In New England


Ralph Brown (20) and the Cardinals' defense try to gang-tackle Patriots running back LaMont Jordan during the Cards' 47-7 loss in New England Sunday.

FOXBORO, Mass. – Miserable.

That single word described both the weather and the game for the Cardinals Sunday on their final regular-season road trip of the season, a 47-7 blowout loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

The snow came down hard much of the first half, and while it relented by halftime, the Patriots never did.

The Cardinals (8-7) were behind 31-0 at halftime after trailing 28-0 at the half the week before against Minnesota. The Patriots (10-5) were fighting to stay alive in the playoff chase, but it was tough to find the fight in the Cards.

"I can't explain it. I don't understand it," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "It's disappointing and it's not acceptable. This time of year you're supposed to be playing better football."

Arizona was without the injured wide receiver Anquan Boldin (shoulder) and running back J.J. Arrington (knee), but that wasn't unexpected. The snow wasn't a surprise either.

What was a surprise was surrendering 514 yards of total offense to New England while gaining just 186 of their own – and 78 of the yards came on the Cards' final possession of the game, when backup quarterback Matt Leinart hit Larry Fitzgerald with a long touchdown pass.

The Patriots rushed for 183 yards and their passing game consisted of mostly short passes allowing receivers to juke defenders on the slippery turf.

"I ain't got no words for it," linebacker Karlos Dansby said. "We ain't got nowhere else to go but up. We've hit rock bottom."

The elements affected the Cards' passing game, with quarterback Kurt Warner struggling through his least-productive day of the season. Warner finished 6-for-18 passing for only 30 yards. The offense had just 56 total yards of offense while Warner played deep into the third quarter.

"We have got to figure some things out and get back to playing good football again, because we're not doing it right now," a clearly irritated Warner said, downplaying the weather as much of a factor.

"Yeah, there are ways to fix it, but we have to show up on Sundays and play."

Leinart got his most significant playing time of the season when he finally replaced Warner with 3:26 left in the third quarter. He completed 6-of-14 passes for 138 yards, although he lost a fumble, threw an interception (on a pass that glanced off the hands of Jerheme Urban) and had problems with his radio headset at first.

"It's not the way you want to go in there, down by that many," Leinart admitted. "But it's good to get in there and play."

Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel, throwing mostly short screen passes and allowing his receivers to gain yards after the catch, finished 20-of-36 for 345 yards and three touchdowns despite playing just a couple plays in the fourth quarter.

The Cardinals did get an early first down via the running game with the score still 7-0, but a questionable penalty of fullback Terrelle Smith wiped out the play and the Cards were forced to punt. Whisenhunt noted it hurt momentum, but added, "We can't be as fragile a team that we can't recover from that."

Asked if the team's confidence is waning, Warner acknowledged "we definitely don't feel invincible, that's for sure."

Part of Whisenhunt's postgame message was simple: The season finale against the Seahawks next week is suddenly crucial for a team sliding prior to the playoffs.

"We can't end up 8 and 8," Smith said.

Added defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, "Ain't no excuses. We came out against a team, we knew what the weather was, we knew it was going to be cold and snowing, and we got our ass whipped.

"Now, it's 'What are you going to do about it?' "

Contact Darren Urban at Posted 12/21/08.

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