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Cardinals can't hang with high-powered Saints

It was over when ...

Drew Brees showed no rust while passing for 247 yards and three TDs against the Cardinals.
(Aaron M. Sprecher / Associated Press)

Reggie Bush returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown, effectively breaking the Cardinals' will. Garrett Hartley's extra point gave the Saints a 45-14 lead with 6:42 remaining in the third quarter.

Game ball

The bye week was good to Bush, who looked as healthy as ever while juking defenders on his way to a season-high 84 rushing yards on five carries. Bush showed off his ability to make defenders miss on a 46-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and again on his punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter. Bush added four catches for 24 yards and had a 36-yard average on three punt returns.

Key Stat

The Cardinals just couldn't match the Saints, who scored touchdowns on five of their six first-half possessions. Kurt Warner and Co. couldn't stay on the field, as the Cardinals finished 1-for-8 on third downs.

Noteworthy

The Saints reached the NFC Championship game for the second time in franchise history. Next week's NFC Championship will be the first played at the Superdome. ... Bush's punt return for a touchdown was the third longest in postseason history. ... Warner was on the receiving end of a violent hit from Saints DE Bobby McCray on an interception in the second quarter. Warner was replaced by Matt Leinart on the following drive, later returned to start the second half, and was then replaced for good with the game out of reach in the fourth quarter. ... Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was carted to the locker room in the second quarter with a left knee injury and did not return. Cromartie's teammate, Antrel Rolle, left with a head injury and also did not return. ... The Cardinals lost for the first time this season when recording at least 100 rushing yards. That total included a 70-yard touchdown run by Tim Hightower on the game's first play from scrimmage.

Team Leaders

ARIZONA CARDINALS  
Passing Cmp Att Yds TDs
K. Warner 17 26 205 0
Rushing Car Yds Avg TDs
T. Hightower 6 87 14.5 1
C. Wells 5 7 1.4 1
Receiving Rec Yds Avg TDs
L. Fitzgerald 6 77 12.8 0
E. Doucet 8 68 8.5 0
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS  
Passing Cmp Att Yds TDs
D. Brees 23 32 247 3
Rushing Car Yds Avg TDs
R. Bush 5 84 16.8 1
P. Thomas 13 52 4 0
Receiving Rec Yds Avg TDs
M. Colston 6 83 13.8 1
D. Henderson 4 80 20 1

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Ratings

  1. Photo of Drew Brees

    Drew Brees

    #9 | QB | Saints

    23/32, 247 YDS, 3 TD

    Fan Avg.

  2. Photo of Kurt Warner

    Kurt Warner

    #13 | QB | Cardinals

    17/26, 205 YDS, 1 INT

    Fan Avg.

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