Following Kurt Warner's decision to retire from football, I thought it would be only necessary to countdown the top five games of the future Hall of Famer's career with the Cardinals.
To briefly sum up his career with the team, Warner was signed to a one year contract in 2005, and he shared the starting job with Josh McCown for most of the season. The Cardinals gave him a three year extension in 2006, but drafted Matt Leinart that year as well. Warner was benched after two games to Leinart, but later would reestablish himself as the Cardinals starting quarterback in 2007. And for the last three seasons, we've had the pleasure of watching one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.
5. October 8th, 2009 vs Chicago Bears- 22/32(68%), 261 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs
After a horrendous performance against the Carolina Panthers the week before(six turnovers), Kurt Warner responded with one of the greatest games in his career. Part of the reason the Cardinals were so successful on the road in 2009 was largely in part of Kurt Warner's dominant play. The Cardinals hadn't lost a road game heading into Chicago and kept the trend going with a 41-21 offensive pounding of the Bears. Warner only needed 22 completions to throw touchdowns to four different Cardinals. He finished the game with a 132.9 quarterback rating while not turning the ball over and was only sacked once.
4. September 14th, 2008 vs Miami Dolphins- 19/24(79%), 361 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
In the second game of the Cardinals 2008 season, Kurt Warner threw the equivalent of baseball's perfect game. His passer rating was 158.3 for the third time in his career as he led the Cardinals to a 31-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Yours truly attending the game, and seeing it first hand I can tell you I watched in amazement as every pass from Warner was smoothly transitioned from his hand to the wide receivers'. He was flawless and put each receiver in position to make a play with the ball. Warner finished the day completing 79% of his passes en route to the Cardinals 2-0 start.
3. January 18th, 2009 NFC Championship vs Philadelphia Eagles- 21/28(75%), 279 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs
It was the Cardinals first NFC Championship game since being in Arizona and the atmosphere was unexplainable. Kurt Warner's playoff experience showed as he led the Cardinals offense to a dominating first half, leading the Eagles 24-6 at halftime. Although the Philadelphia climbed back to tie the game with a fourth quarter comeback, Warner was clutch on the Cardinals game-winning drive, going 5 for 5 for 56 yards, throwing the touchdown and the 2-point conversion. Warner's amazing game led the Cardinals to their first ever Super Bowl appearance.
2. January 10th, 2010, Wild Card Round vs Green Bay Packers- 29/33(87%), 379 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs
Entering their match up with the Green Bay Packers, the Cardinals knew a shootout was on the horizon. Green Bay's offense was as explosive, if not more then the Cardinals' offense, and many felt the team to score last would win the game. Not only did that happen, but it occurred in overtime in what would be the highest scoring game in NFL playoff history(96 points). The most astonishing part of the game was that Kurt Warner only threw four incompletions against the second ranked pass defense in the NFL. Warner tossed five touchdowns and played his best and last game at University of Phoenix Stadium.
1. February 1st, 2009, Super Bowl 43 vs Pittsburgh Steelers- 31/43(72%), 377 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INTs
Although Warner's top game as Cardinal was a loss, let's not forget that it occurred in the Super Bowl of all places. Let's also remember that he threw the third highest yardage total in Super Bowl history against the number one ranked defense in almost every defensive category. Dick Lebeau and Troy Polamalu had almost no answer for Warner's play, as he threw three touchdowns and what looked like the game-winning 64-yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald. Warner certainly gave the Cardinals every chance to win and put the defense in position to hold off the Steelers comeback - unfortunately they didn't.
- 2009, Week 2 at Jacksonville - Warner threw the highest completion rate in a game(92.3) as his game-worn jersey was sent to the NFL Hall of Fame.
- 2007, Week 11 vs San Francisco - Warner threw the most yards(484) of his career in the desert against the rival 49ers. He put the Cardinals in position to win but Rackers couldn't nail the kick.
- 2006, Week 1 vs San Francisco - In the home opener of University of Phoenix Stadium, Warner threw 301 yards and three TDs with no INTs to hold off the 49ers.
- 2007, Week 3 at Baltimore - It's subjective to think that this game propelled Kurt Warner into the starting role, especially after Matt Leinart was lost to injury. Warner came in and almost led the Cardinals to a comeback, throwing 258 yards and 2 TDs in limited playing time.
- 2005, Week 10 vs St. Louis - In Warner's first return to St. Louis since leaving the team, he led the Cardinals to a 38-28 victory, throwing 285 yards and 3 touchdowns.
After five seasons with the Cardinals, Kurt Warner has been special to the organization, even through the ups and downs. He's a class act that will be greatly missed and deserves to be inducted in both the Cardinals Ring of Honor, but also the NFL Hall of Fame. Which game do you consider to be Kurt Warner's best as a Cardinal?