The success of Anquan Boldin and the Cards' passing game is a big reason Arizona is second in the NFL in lowest three-downs-and-out percentage.
Ken Whisenhunt was asked about his team's success in avoiding three-downs-and-out possessions this season, and he shook his head.
"I refuse to answer that question on the grounds it may jinx us in the future," the Cardinals' coach said. "We have talked about this before."
Whisenhunt was joking, of course. But the Cardinals don't want to derail their consistency in drives, which right now has them second in the league with a 13.3 three-and-out percentage – 10 of 75 drives. Only New Orleans (12.1, or 11 in 91) has a better mark. And no one has fewer three-and-out possessions, although Houston also has just 10 (in 72 drives).
The league average is 22.7 percent.
"We've been executing as a whole offensively pretty much all year, with the exception of some turnovers and especially that first half against the Jets," Whisenhunt said. "But I think we have some receivers that have made some plays when we have been in third-and-long and the line has done a good job protecting Kurt."
Whisenhunt also brought up the time rookie running back Tim Hightower grabbed a screen pass on third-and-17 and turned it into a first down.
"Those plays get overlooked when you talk about not having three-and-outs," Whisenhunt said.
WARNER ON HIS GAME
Not only did quarterback Kurt Warner protect the ball well against Carolina but he managed to start sliding in the pocket a bit, something he hadn't been doing enough. Warner said his movement had been hindered while trying – as coaches had asked – to keep both hands on the ball.
"I didn't feel athletic – and obviously I am not a very good athlete – but I didn't feel athletic at times," Warner said. "As I am getting more comfortable with that, I can make some plays on the run."
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said he was pleased with Warner's all-around game in Carolina.
"it was one of his best games of the year, and not just stats, but ball security, moving around, increasing the margin of error," Haley said. "He had two hands on the football more than you have ever seen Kurt Warner have ever.
"To me, if you look at the whole thing, with the decision-making, throws, he probably had one throw he wanted back. There were a couple errors in the run game but other than that, a pretty solid performance, mentally and physically."
With Ben Patrick (knee) back to limited work Friday, Whisenhunt said the tight end position "looks a lot better" than last week.
"I think we have three guys for sure," said Whisenhunt, with Patrick, Jerame Tuman and newcomer Stephen Spach on hand. Tight end Leonard Pope, as was already said, is out with his bad ankle. "It won't be as uneasy of a feeling going into this game."
A handful of others were limited – cornerback Eric Green (knee), DE/LB Travis LaBoy (groin), wide receivers Early Doucet (groin) and Sean Morey (hamstring) – but all should be available.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 10/31/08.