Silver linings: Cardinals vs. Steelers

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The facts: The Cardinals suffered a 27-23 defeat to the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium.

The upside: Even the most difficult defeats tend to feature a bright spot or two, and this one had plenty for Arizona.

  • Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald enhanced their playoff credentials with memorable performances. Warner completed 72 percent of his passes for 377 yards with three touchdowns and a 112.3 rating. He owns the three highest single-game totals for passing yards in Super Bowl history. Fitzgerald set a postseason record for receptions (30), receiving yards (546) and receiving touchdowns (seven).

  • The coaching staff can use the team's performance as a reference point in recommitting to an emphasis on details. As hard as the Cardinals played and as well as they played at times, their own errors proved costly. Coach Ken Whisenhunt can use that realization as a starting point for next season.

  • The heart defensive lineman Darnell Dockett showed late in the game gave him additional credibility as an emotional leader on defense. He was terrific.

  • Steve Breaston's 34-yard punt return provided favorable field position in the second quarter.

  • The Cardinals' defensive linemen continued to get their hands on the ball near the line of scrimmage, setting up an interception at one point.

  • Arizona held the Steelers' Willie Parker to 2.8 yards per carry even though Parker broke one of his 19 attempts for a 15-yard gain.

  • The Cardinals finished with 407 total yards and a 7.1-yard average per play, easily better than anyone had fared against the Steelers' top-ranked defense this season. Pittsburgh allowed more than 300 yards once during the regular season. The Steelers had allowed more than 4.4 yards per play once, and never more than 5.3.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals hold the 31st overall choice in the 2009 NFL draft.