NFL Nation: New Orleans-Arizona 011610

NEW ORLEANS -- The Cardinals were outmanned on defense and sloppy on offense.

Their offensive approach also seemed questionable when Arizona failed to more fully explore holes in the Saints' run defense when the score was still close enough for the Cardinals to stick with their game plan.

Not that it probably mattered. The Saints were the better team. The Cardinals needed a near-perfect performance. They weren't even close to delivering.

The fumble receiver Jerheme Urban lost on the Cardinals' second offensive play squandered the momentum Arizona built with Tim Hightower's 70-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.

Turnovers are important for every team, but especially so for Arizona. The Cardinals entered the game with a 22-1 record under Ken Whisenhunt when they won the turnover battle. They were 2-19 when they lost it and 7-2 when finishing even in turnovers.

Arizona is now 2-20 under Whisenhunt when suffering more turnovers than the opposition.

The Cardinals were fortunate to get out of the Superdome with quarterback Kurt Warner still able to function, albeit at less than full strength after suffering a chest injury.

The Saints exploited the Cardinals' age at outside linebacker and depth in the secondary. Arizona couldn't get pressure and couldn't cover even before injuries sidelined cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and safety Antrel Rolle. Without Rodgers-Cromartie and Rolle to worry about, Saints quarterback Drew Brees had an easier time picking on cornerback Bryant McFadden. Arizona's defense also continued to suffer from poor tackling.

The Cardinals go into this offseason facing important questions. Warner's thoughts on retirement will be pivotal. On defense, they allowed 45 points in each of their two playoff games. That is unacceptable even against great quarterbacks.
NEW ORLEANS – Those three losses the Saints had to end the regular season led to a lot of talk about them lacking momentum for the playoffs.


Well, none of that mattered in a 45-14 win over the Cardinals. The Saints showed up with momentum and a lot more Saturday afternoon. Even when they were still undefeated, quarterback Drew Brees kept saying the Saints hadn’t put it all together.

Now, we see what Brees was talking about. This was as good a game as I’ve seen the Saints play, and that includes the regular-season victory against New England. Whatever Sean Payton and his staff worked on in their practices after the regular season worked perfectly.

The Saints had positive momentum from the moment they were led onto the field by Deuce McAllister and it never stopped. If they keep this momentum going, the Saints are going to be very tough for anybody to beat.

I'm heading down to the locker room and will be back with more in a bit.

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