Rookie running back Tim Hightower lunges at the end of his four-yard touchdown run Saturday. The play was originally ruled out of bounds but was overturned.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A week after the Saints drove right down the field to open the preseason with a touchdown, the Cardinals' first-string defense was back in a hole.
Kicker Neil Rackers put his kickoff out of bounds, giving the Chiefs the ball at their own 40-yard line and a short field. The Chiefs reached the Cardinals' 14 but stalled, forcing the first of three field goals. The lone touchdown the Cards surrendered in the 27-17 win came with 15 seconds left and the game decided.
The defense even offset that with an 84-yard interception return for a touchdown by rookie safety Dennis Keyes.
"You don't want to give up long drives," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "But if you only give up three points, you've accomplished something."
It wasn't all perfect. The Chiefs did gain 106 yards rushing in the first half. But it was enough.
"When a team gets a little momentum, you want to regroup and to hold them to a field goal in the red zone and that's what we did," said rookie defensive tackle Calais Campbell, who started for the injured Darnell Dockett.
Perhaps the hit linebacker Travis LaBoy put on backup quarterback Brian St. Pierre last week at practice foretold LaBoy's coming week, because the free-agent linebacker came up with two sacks and could have been credited with another half-sack.
"I think he showed what we are excited about," Whisenhunt said. "We saw that tonight, pressure off the edge. They got one tonight where he ran up the field and guessed (it was a pass) and they got a big run on us. We have to be more disciplined on that."
The game started poorly for Rackers, who not only booted the opening kickoff out of bounds but also missed his first extra point.
Whisenhunt said holder Dirk Johnson took the blame for the extra point, saying when he spun the ball on the snap the ball fell, causing the miss. Whisenhunt said he wanted to review the tape on the play.
As for the kick out of bounds, Whisenhunt said he was "very disappointed."
"We can't do that," Whisenhunt added.
UP TO THE CHALLENGE
Twice Whisenhunt challenged plays on the field. Twice, Whisenhunt was proven right by replay – impressive since he was successful on only one of six challenges during 2007.
The first came on a pass originally ruled an interception by Matt Leinart on a pass to Larry Fitzgerald. The ball was stolen by a defender, but replays showed the ball hit the ground and was never a completion.
The second was on running back Tim Hightower's touchdown, which was originally ruled out of bounds before Hightower crossed the goal line.
"I've been working hard on (challenges)," Whisenhunt quipped.
After penalty problems in the first game, the Cardinals had only three penalties for 20 yards, and only had one penalty (for five yards) in the first half. …
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin did not have a catch, although after a game-opening bomb attempt to Boldin that was knocked away, Boldin did not have a pass thrown his way. …
Tim Castille got the start at fullback. Whisenhunt said Castille and veteran Terrelle Smith remain in a battle for the starting job.
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 8/16/08.