Leinart started last Sunday for the first time since 2007 and completed 21 of 31 passes for 220 yards. He wasn't intercepted but he didn't throw a touchdown either. Leinart led the Cardinals to one touchdown drive, but it would have been the game winner had the defense not let the Titans go on a 99-yard touchdown drive as time expired.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt was conservative early with his play-calling but loosened up as Leinart became comfortable and more confident.
"I think the natural tendency is to do that a little bit," Whisenhunt said. "You don't want to give him too much to start with because you want him to be able to feel comfortable with what you are doing. He wasn't letting the pressure affect him. He moved well in the pocket. Obviously, he made some big plays for us."
Leinart didn't get any extra snaps last week in practice, because the Cardinals felt confident that Warner was going to play. But Warner's neck was sore and stiff all week, and by Saturday his vision still wasn't improved.
His eyes were sensitive to light, and didn't feel quite right. Leinart had an idea during the week that the chance of playing was high. By Saturday, he knew it was likely he would start.
The ability to play well without a lot of practice is "the essence of a pro," Whisenhunt said. "Backup quarterbacks are held in high esteem, ones that are successful, because they can do that. That was the question about Matt.
"That's one of the questions that is answered for me now. Can he do that in that role? I felt good about how Matt has prepared. I always felt that if he had an opportunity to play for a sustained period, he would do well."
"It feels like a light sensitivity or my eyes aren't quite adjusted," Warner said. "I had some tightness in my neck all week, so I think we were trying to gauge whether what I was feeling was coming from the issues in my neck or whether it was an issue with my head. If we could've pinpointed it and believed that it was just muscular and in the neck, then I probably would've played."
Asked if he wanted to get the ball downfield more, Fitzgerald said: "We did what we had to do to go out there and try to put ourselves in position to win."
Then he smiled. Fitzgerald caught his 500th career pass in the game. Fitzgerald reached that mark in 87 games, second fastest in history. Teammate Anquan Boldin did it in 80 games.