It's officially over now. There was a part of Arizona fans -- at least for myself -- that felt a sort of faint hope the team would be different this season. And after a few weeks the season was shaping up that way. Unfortunately, injuries and the team's uncanny knack to blow games that matter most only made 2007 the most painful. It only seemed fitting this weekend the Cardinals would lose to another team fighting for a playoff spot. In a game of "who wants it more" New Orleans was that team.
It was a game the Cardinals were evenly matched with the Saints. Unlike New Orleans, however, the Cardinals committed costly penalties and Kurt Warner threw his weekly interception and fumbled for the tenth time this season.
"It was just too many mistakes for us today," Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I really believe that we are on the right track. We're getting players in the right situations (but) we're not making those plays. ... Maybe we could use a little more confidence."
Drew Brees, meanwhile, was darn near perfect. Completing 26-of-30 for 315 yards and two touchdowns, Brees ensured a victory for the Saints and kept Arizona at bay.
Not that the Cardinals didn't have opportunities. In fact, midway through the fourth quarter the Cardinals took possession of the ball on a crucial fumble at their own 43 yard line with the game within seven points and with all momentum in their favor. Three plays later and it was 4th-and-13, time to punt with six minutes on the clock.
And while the New Orleans running game should have been the least of Arizona's worries, the team managed to allow Aaron Stecker a pair of scores on the ground and, late in the game, he pounded his way to a crucial first down that sealed the win.
"We've lost a lot of games we should have won this year," Warner said. "The No. 1 thing we cannot allow ourselves to do is go backward. We can all sit around and say we're out of the playoffs. ... The bottom line is, if we are going to be a playoff team, we are going to have to find a way to win."