• 57°

NFL Playoffs: Cardinals 30, Falcons 24

By Bob Baum
Associated Press
GLENDALE, Ariz. ó The Arizona Cardinals were no playoff pretenders.
Kurt Warner opened with a 42-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald and connected with Anquan Boldin on a 71-yard scoring play as the Cardinals beat Atlanta 30-24 Saturday before a raucous, white towel-waving crowd in their first home playoff game in 61 years.
Atlanta rookie Matt Ryan was intercepted twice, was tackled in the end zone for a safety and fumbled the ball away on a botched handoff. The fumble was returned 26 yards by Antrel Rolle 52 seconds into the second half to put Arizona ahead for good.
The Cardinals’ Edgerrin James outgained Atlanta’s Michael Turner, the NFL’s No. 2 rusher.
James, who has made it known he will not be back with the Cardinals next season, carried 16 times for 73 yards. Turner, who rushed for 1,699 yards in the regular season, had 42 yards in 18 attempts.
Warner, in the playoffs for the first time since leading St. Louis to a second Super Bowl in 2001, was 19-of-32, 13-for-17 in the second half, for 271 yards. He was intercepted once.
“I hope this gives us a lot of confidence,” Warner said. “I knew we thought we could win this game. Hopefully we can parlay this into some more confidence and know we can win wherever we have to go.”
Arizona will play at either the New York Giants or Carolina Panthers next weekend. Arizona has played both teams this season, losing 27-23 at Carolina on Oct. 26, and 37-29 at home to the Giants on Nov. 23.
Ryan, the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, completed 26 of 40 passes for 199 yards and two scores.
The Cardinals went 9-7 to win a weak NFC West and make the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
Atlanta (11-5) finished a game behind Carolina in the tough NFC South and came in a winner of five of its last six. But from the start Arizona showed that, at least on this afternoon, it belonged in the postseason.
The Cardinals’ 30 points were their most in the playoffs, breaking a record set by the then-Chicago Cardinals in the NFL championship victory over Philadelphia in 1947. That was the franchise’s last home playoff game before Saturday.
Antonio Smith’s tackle of Ryan for a safety put Arizona ahead 30-17 with 12:37 to play.
The Falcons, who rebounded from a 4-12 season to make the playoffs, made it close after that. On fourth-and-6, Ryan connected with Jerious Norwood for 28 yards to Cardinals 26. That led to Ryan’s 5-yard scoring pass to Roddy White that cut it to 30-24 with 4:15 left.
But Warner completed passes to Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Stephen Spach, then the Cardinals ran out the clock.
When it was over, Arizona’s second-year Ken Whisenhunt ran along the front row of the stadium, exchanging high-fives with fans. The Cardinals didn’t sell out the game until Friday, but the throng was loud and boisterous throughout.
Ryan’s first pass of the playoffs was intercepted by Ralph Brown, leading to Warner’s 42-yard TD to Fitzgerald on a flea-flicker. Early in the second quarter, Warner threw short to Boldin, who beat safety Lawyer Milloy and ran down the sideline on a 71-yard scoring play.
Boldin hurt his left hamstring on the play. He played the next series, then left for good.
The Falcons scored two touchdowns in the final 2:55 to lead 17-14 at the half, but a big early second-half mistake led to Arizona’s go-ahead score.
Ryan’s intended handoff to Turner bounced off the running back’s forearm and into the hands of Rolle, who raced to the end zone to put Arizona ahead 21-17.
The Cardinals mustered their first extended drive of the game later in the third quarter. Moving the ball with James’ running and Warner’s short passes, Arizona used up 7:43, going 76 yards in 14 plays. Warner’s 14-yard pass to Breaston on third-and-3 set up Tim Hightower’s 4-yard run that made it 28-17.
Notes: The Falcons had the ball for 21:19 in the first half, the Cardinals had it for 21:21 in the second. … It was a nice day outside but the Cardinals kept the roof closed at University of Phoenix Stadium. The stadium is far louder with the roof closed. … Each team was without a starting defensive end because of injuries, Jamaal Anderson for Atlanta and Travis LaBoy for Arizona.

Comments

Comments closed.

High School

Coaches, lawmakers react to governor’s order expanding sporting event capacity

Coronavirus

Three new COVID-19 deaths, positives remain below triple digits

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper announces end to curfew, changes to restrictions affecting bars, high school sports

Crime

Blotter: Two charged after call about package

Crime

Salisbury Police investigating two shootings

Crime

Chase involving Kernersville man ends in woods behind Carson High School

News Main

North Rowan girls end season with playoff loss to Murphy

Education

Rowan-Salisbury EC department plunges in place after raising $1,300 for Special Olympics

Nation/World

Tiger Woods injured in car crash, has surgery on legs

Local

Local stakeholders set goals, direction to tackle city’s housing issues

Education

RSS board talks future of Henderson Independent School

Coronavirus

One new COVID-19 death, 23 new positives reported Tuesday

Local

Concord to create fallen officer memorial featuring Rowan native Shuping

Crime

20-year-old man faces rape charges

Crime

Blotter: Man charged after shooting gun during argument

Local

UPDATE: Missing Salisbury man found

Education

RSS board votes to use upset bid process on Faith property

Local

Committee to soon accept artist applications for ‘Paint the Pavement’ project

BREAKING NEWS

RSS board votes to send elementary students to in-person classes four days per week

Coronavirus

County to administer nearly 1,700 vaccines this week

News

Political Notebook: Rep. Howard named ‘hospitality champion’ by North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association

Crime

Blotter: Gunshot fired into home on North Oakhurst Drive

Local

Teenager reported missing in Salisbury

Local

‘Everybody needs an Aunt Libby:’ Family celebrates 100th birthday of Rockwell doctor Elizabeth Lombard