CHICAGO — Kurt Warner envisioned doing this on a regular basis at Soldier Field. Good thing for the Arizona Cardinals, the Chicago Bears took a pass on him.
One week after throwing five interceptions, Warner tied a career high by throwing five touchdown passes while Larry Fitzgerald added 123 yards receiving to lead the Arizona Cardinals to an easy 41-21 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Warner was at his best after a miserable performance in a 34-21 loss to Carolina. He handled a team that had a chance to sign him as a backup four years ago, matching the record for TD passes by a Bears opponent without getting picked off.
Two of them went to Fitzgerald, who had his way with Charles Tillman before the cornerback left the game with a shoulder injury in the second quarter, but this was Warner's afternoon.
He completed 22 of 31 passes for 261 yards and threw touchdown passes on the first four possessions. Neil Rackers added field goals on the next two, booting a 43-yarder at the end of the half and a 30-yarder in the third quarter to make it 34-7, sending Arizona (5-3) to an easy win and Chicago (4-4) to a damaging loss.
The Bears got within 34-21 after Zackary Bowman returned an interception by Matt Leinart 39 yards to the Arizona 28, setting up a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Greg Olsen with 9:04 left in the game. Olsen had five catches for 71 yards and three touchdowns.
Otherwise, it was a rough afternoon for Chicago, which is in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight year.
Tim Hightower ran for 77 yards, Beanie Wells added 72 rushing and the Cardinals' offense racked up 438 yards even though Arizona was missing wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
He missed the game with a sprained right ankle. The Cardinals, however, did not miss a beat.
It helped that they didn't have to contend with Chicago's Tommie Harris after the three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle slugged offensive tackle Deuce Lutui in the head as they were on the ground on the game's first possession. He got ejected, and the Bears unraveled.
The Bears wasted a good effort by Jay Cutler, who threw for 369 yards while completing 29 of 47 passes. He got sacked four times for the second straight week and got shaken up on a hit early in the third quarter, dropping his helmet and taking a knee after he walked to the sideline.
He was fine. The Bears are far from it, and they have little time to regroup, with a Thursday night game at San Francisco.
The Bears then close out the month against Philadelphia and the first of two games against NFC North leader Minnesota, a difficult stretch for a team whose playoff hopes are hanging in the balance.
Things weren't looking good for the Bears after Harris got tossed for slugging Lutui near the face after they ended up on the ground following a run play. Things only got worse from there, and leading the way was Warner, who wound up signing with the Cardinals in 2005 in part because the Bears were committed to Rex Grossman.
His 11-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald capped the opening drive, giving the Cardinals a 7-0 lead. The Bears quickly tied it thanks to two long passes by Cutler – a 42-yarder to Devin Hester and a 33-yard touchdown to Olsen – but the Cardinals wasted no time busting this game open.
Arizona responded with a 74-yard drive that Warner finished off with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Ben Patrick that made it 14-7 with 3:26 left in the first quarter.
(This version CORRECTS Cardinals 41, Bears 21. SUBS 5th graf to correct Warner's stats, reflecting changes in official statistics.)