NEW ORLEANS -- The Cardinals were outmanned on defense and sloppy on offense.
Their offensive approach also seemed questionable when Arizona failed to more fully explore holes in the Saints' run defense when the score was still close enough for the Cardinals to stick with their game plan.
Not that it probably mattered. The Saints were the better team. The Cardinals needed a near-perfect performance. They weren't even close to delivering.
Turnovers are important for every team, but especially so for Arizona. The Cardinals entered the game with a 22-1 record under Ken Whisenhunt when they won the turnover battle. They were 2-19 when they lost it and 7-2 when finishing even in turnovers.
Arizona is now 2-20 under Whisenhunt when suffering more turnovers than the opposition.
The Cardinals were fortunate to get out of the Superdome with quarterback Kurt Warner still able to function, albeit at less than full strength after suffering a chest injury.
The Saints exploited the Cardinals' age at outside linebacker and depth in the secondary. Arizona couldn't get pressure and couldn't cover even before injuries sidelined cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and safety Antrel Rolle. Without Rodgers-Cromartie and Rolle to worry about, Saints quarterback Drew Brees had an easier time picking on cornerback Bryant McFadden. Arizona's defense also continued to suffer from poor tackling.
The Cardinals go into this offseason facing important questions. Warner's thoughts on retirement will be pivotal. On defense, they allowed 45 points in each of their two playoff games. That is unacceptable even against great quarterbacks.