| Cardinals receiver Jerheme Urban fumbles in the first quarter Friday night, the first of four turnovers in a rough 44-37 preseason loss to the Packers.|
Earlier in the week, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt cautioned that while the third preseason game is probably the most important of the exhibition season, it still didn't compare to a regular-season game.
For that, the Cards are thankful.
The last big dress rehearsal for the starters Friday night at University of Phoenix Stadium didn't turn out as Whisenhunt or his team had hoped, losing 44-37, to the Green Bay Packers.
Backup quarterback Matt Leinart threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns in a maniacal attempt to rally – wide receiver Early Doucet couldn't haul in a two-point conversion pass with 38 seconds left that would have given the Cards the lead – but that simply couldn't block the bitter from the game.
After the first half – while the majority of starters were playing for both teams – the Packers had built a stunning 38-10 lead and left Whisenhunt ticked off.
"I am proud of the team for fighting back," Whisenhunt said, "but I extremely disappointed in the way our football team played in the first half. It's embarrassing.
"Two things I am glad about: One, that it is (just) a preseason game, and two, that maybe this is a wake-up call for our guys. One of the things you worry about with a team that has had success, and I have said this before, is the idea you can just show up and win. That's a lesson I hope we learned tonight."
The Packers (3-0) had been good in the preseason (they've now outscored their opponents 76-10 in the cumulative first halves) and Whisenhunt said he thought Green Bay might have game-planned some, coming in to Glendale "on a mission."
Still, Whisenhunt couldn't get past his own team, which now goes into the preseason finale winless and seemingly in a worse place than after the first two games.
"We came out and didn't match Green Bay's intensity and we got exactly what we deserved," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "We can't sit here and say it was just a preseason game. Everybody wasn't playing on the same level today."
The first-unit offense got their first touchdown – welcome to the NFL, Beanie Wells – but quarterback Kurt Warner lost a fumble and was intercepted right before halftime, both of which led to touchdowns. A lost fumble by receiver Jerheme Urban led to a Packers field goal.
And again, despite Wells' score, the Cards got inside the opponent's 10-yard line on a drive yet had to settle for a field goal.
Wells ended up with two touchdowns, with his play – along with Leinart -- the Cards' only highlights of the night. The moves Wells made on his 20-yard scoring jaunt was a display of everything the Cards had been waiting for while the first-round pick recovered from his sprained ankle.
"I was excited and just happy to get on the field," Wells said. "It was my first piece of contact in a long time."
The rest of the offense was left wanting. Warner finished 10-of-16 for 139 yards, and clearly sounded more concerned than his thoughts earlier in the week.
"It's been the theme of the preseason so far – we're making a lot of plays but not all the plays," Warner said. "If we do the little things, we can be good with the other things we have done. But it's been three games and we haven't done those little things, and it is starting to become frustrating. It's getting to a point where there has to be a sense of urgency."
The Cards' starting defense, which hadn't allowed a point through the first two preseason games, was run over in the first half, allowing a stunning 357 yards. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, having a spectacular preseason, finished 14-of-19 for 258 yards and three touchdowns (and adding 39 rushing yards) in just two quarters of play.
The Cards (0-3) couldn't slow the Packers' attack, giving up a 76-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson – who badly beat cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on a streak pattern – on the first play after Wells' first touchdown. And with less than a minute left, Warner threw his interception that set up Rodgers' final TD pass with just four seconds left in the half.
Talking about reasons why the Cards lost, Whisenhunt plainly pointed out, "you get an attitude that's it's a preseason game and that's what we did."