Plenty to Fight For

In the early minutes of Sunday's game, an Arizona win seemed within reach. The new face in the end zone made believers out of the Cardinals, but the Saints called upon a higher power. Drew Brees' arm answered the call.

What Worked

--The Cardinals gained an early lead with a 1-yard toss to TE Troy Bienemann on their opening drive. It was his first career touchdown. Bienemann's efforts were counteracted when the New Orleans Saints went on a two-touchdown spree.

--Newly selected Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald countered New Orleans with a touchdown of his own. An 18-yard pass from Kurt Warner tied the game at 14 in the second quarter.

--The Cardinals sustained their best drive of the game at the beginning of the third quarter. On the 10-play march, the Cardinals earned six first downs, their most on any possession. The drive resulted in a touchdown by catch TE Ben Patrick.

--Arizona's running game averaged more yards per carry than New Orleans', 4.7 to 3.9. The Cardinals have boasted the superior rushing average in nine games this season. They are 4-5 in those contests.

--Edgerrin James picked up his longest run in eight games (21 yards).

What Didn't

--The Cardinals were unable to stop the Saints from scoring a second set of consecutive touchdowns. New Orleans spirits lifted them to the locker room after breaking the tie with a 32-yard pass to WR David Patten. That was the breakaway the Saints needed, the Cardinals trailed for the duration of the game.

--The Cardinals lost the turnover game, but not by much. Just one Warner throw intended for Bienemann landed in enemy hands. The 31-yard pass was too much for Bienemann, whose longest reception of the season is just 7 yards.

--Arizona executed crisply in short-yardage situations early on. Its first fourth-and-1 situation resulted in a touchdown. The success did not continue. When the Cardinals needed 5 yards or less to get a first down, they converted just six of 16 times times (37.5 percent). The Saints converted on seven of 13 such tries (53 percent).

--New Orleans picked up 24 first downs, seven more than Arizona.

--The Cardinals' defense didn't put enough pressure on Drew Brees. Brees had plenty of room and time to use his arm. He passed for 82 more yards than Warner (325 to 233) with no interceptions. Sunday was Brees's third 300-yard game of the season. He was sacked only once, the 11th time this season he has endured less than two sacks.

What's Next

--The Cardinals will play for a .500 record and pride in their last two games. Their remaining opponents, the Atlanta Falcons and the St. Louis Rams, are not playoff contenders. Both are 3-11 and will have to travel to Arizona.

--Arizona starters will continue to play, despite their postseason hopes being flushed.

Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for She has contributed to the official Web sites of several NFL players for Sixthman Communications.

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