TEMPE, Ariz. (Aug. 13, 2005) -- Kurt Warner showed coach Dennis Green what he wanted to see out of Arizona's rebuilt offense. The Cardinals' defense showed up as well -- as long as the regulars were in.
It added up to a 13-11 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
But Warner fired up a unit that was 27th last year behind quarterbacks Josh McCown, Shaun King and John Navarre. He completed 14 of 19 passes for 151 yards and a 31-yard touchdown strike to Larry Fitzgerald, leading the Cardinals to a 10-0 lead before leaving the game after a punt with 6:17 left in the second quarter.
"It felt like a uniform to me," Warner said about his debut in red after playing for the blue-jerseyed St. Louis Rams and New York Giants. "I'm just excited about what we've got. I think we have a great defense."
"I wish we'd scored more, but he played a quarter and a half," Green said. "It was about what we expected."
|Kurt Warner proved to be a good fit for the offense, despite missing four starters.|
Dallas, 0-3 against the Cardinals in exhibition games but 53-27-1 in the regular season, had to be content with Billy Cundiff's field goals of 47 and 34 yards and a 33-yarder by Jose Cortez, partly because of penalties. The Cowboys committed 12 for 91 yards -- the most costly a false start that negated a 48-yard, potential winning field goal by Cundiff.
The ball was moved back 5 yards, and Cundiff missed wide left with 1:03 remaining.
Arizona defensive end Calvin Pace also had two sacks in the fourth quarter -- the second moving Dallas beyond chip-shot range.
"It kind of seemed like we'd get something going and then we'd have a negative play," Bledsoe said. "But we tip our caps to them. There were a number of times when we'd have a play called, and they'd have a good defense called for it."
Drew Henson rallied the Cowboys to eight points in the fourth quarter.
Tyson Thompson, who had 64 yards in 10 carries, started Dallas' last scoring drive with an 18-yard run. Nine plays later, Cundiff made it 13-9 with 4:10 to go.
Then the Cardinals stalled behind Navarre, and Scott Player came in to punt from his own 24. But Tom Crowder broke through and blocked the punt, and Player kicked the ball out the back of the end zone with 3:02 remaining.
That led to Dallas' wild final drive that ended in frustration.
"Pretty sloppy first outing," Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said. "We're not going to be able to overcome a lot of the things we did. You know, we had five holding penalties and an illegal motion on that last field goal."
Navarre directed a short drive in the fourth quarter, and Matt Fordyce sent Arizona to a 13-6 lead with a 33-yard field goal with 8:07 remaining.
J.R. Redmond, a free-agency pickup from Oakland and a local favorite because he played at Arizona State, set up the late scoring drive with a 48-yard kickoff return after Cortez made his only field-goal attempt with 11:24 left in the game.
Redmond, one of three candidates to replace 2004 returner Karl Williams, also set up Arizona's first score when he broke two tackles on his way to a 22-yard punt return to near midfield with 8:36 left in the first quarter.
Three plays later, the Cardinals made the game's first first down - a 20-yard pass from Warner to Bryant Johnson -- and Neil Rackers kicked a 41-yard field goal with 5:52 left after the offense sputtered again against Dallas' new 3-4 defense.
Green left the first unit to start the second quarter, and Warner began to find his rhythm.
In a seven-play drive, he completed passes of 20 yards to Fitzgerald, 18 yards to rookie Adam Bergen, 12 yards to Johnson and the TD to Fitzgerald, a gem that the second-year receiver sprawled full-length to catch off the grass, got up and lunged into the end zone.
"Actually, it was kind of a broken play," Warner said. "I kind of let the ball go a little early, and Fitzgerald made a great play just to make the catch, but then to have the awareness to get up and get into the end zone."