January 17, 2010 by USA Post
Matt Leinart:Things started well for the Cardinals…but the good times didn’t last long.
Drew Brees threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns, and Reggie Bush racked up 217 all-purpose yards (84 rushing, 24 receiving, 109 on punt returns) and two touchdowns during the Saints’ 45-14 rout of Arizona on Saturday.
The Cardinals struck first on a 70-yard TD run by Tim Hightower (six carries, 87 yards) on the game’s opening play, but it was all Saints after that.
TE Jeremy Shockey, who missed the final three games of the regular season due to a toe injury, caught the first TD pass. He had three catches for 36 yards before exiting the game due to a knee injury. Marques Colston (6-83) and Devery Henderson (4-80) also caught TDs. Robert Meachem was shut out and Lance Moore had just two catches for six yards.
The Saints were efficient with the ball, striking on big plays and/or getting set up with a short field thanks to takeaways. Pierre Thomas was clearly the feature back and showed no signs of being slowed by his rib injury, but he couldn’t get much going, gaining 70 total yards (52 rushing on 13 carries and 18 receiving on four catches). Backup RB Lynell Hamilton (4-20) scored a rushing touchdown, and he looked much better than fellow backup RB Mike Bell (4-11).
The Saints’ D/ST played well, recording a sack and two takeaways. They also left Kurt Warner battered and bruised.
He finished the game with 205 passing yards and no TDs. Larry Fitzgerald didn’t make his first catch until late in the second quarter and finished with 77 yards and six catches. Steve Breaston (4-52) and Early Doucet (6-54) just couldn’t get going like last week.
Because Arizona trailed much of the game, Beanie Wells (2-5, TD) was mostly a non-factor.
Matt Leinart didn’t do much in relief of Warner at the end of the first half and fourth quarter, throwing for 47 yards. It remains to be seen if Warner will be back next year. It also remains to be seen if Leinart will be back.
The Saints will be hosting the NFC title game against either Minnesota or Dallas next week. Brees and Colston look like great plays in postseason leagues, and Bush, thanks to his return/big-play ability, is also a nice player to have. Thomas and the D/ST have value, too, but the rest of the New Orleans’ players, particularly the receivers, are too boom-or-bust to really count on.
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