VIENNA, Va. -- A veteran quarterback who was twice the NFL's MVP. Two Pro Bowl-caliber wideouts. With those type of weapons, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt expects good things from his 2-minute offense.
But late in the game and down just a touchdown, the Cardinals could muster only a three-and-out in their 24-17 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. The production was anemic enough that Whisenhunt elected to punt on fourth-and-4 from midfield with just 2:46 left in the game. The Redskins ran out the clock to win.
Quarterback Kurt Warner, not surprisingly, wanted to go for it.
"I guess I just thought we were in that mode that we would have to go for it, but our coaches felt like we had a chance if we punted away," Warner said Sunday. "I was just thinking: 'We've got to go. We've got to make this play and move forward."
Even Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell expressed surprise Monday that the Cardinals punted, though he acknowledged that "quarterbacks always" want to go for it.
Whisenhunt elaborated on the decision Monday.
"Had it been a true two-minute situation ... we would have gone for it," he said. "Obviously since we didn't stop them, you have second thoughts about it. But at the time, with 2:47 to work with, two timeouts plus the 2-minute warning, from where we were on the field, if we don't make that first down the game's over."
If the defense had held after the punt, he said, the Cardinals could have gotten the ball back at midfield. If they had gone for it and failed, at best the Cardinals would likely have had to go 80 yards or more with less than 2 minutes and no timeouts to get the winning touchdown.
Overall, though, he said he has confidence that the 2-minute offense will be successful, as it was for much of last year.
"I think we've got good receivers. We've got a quarterback -- both our quarterbacks run that offense well," Whisenhunt said. "I just think that yesterday, sometimes that happens."
Warner, for his part, was thinking less about the decision to punt and more about his first interception of the year, a tipped ball in the fourth quarter that appeared to bounce high in the air off defensive back Leigh Torrence's helmet. Cornerback Carlos Rogers swooped in for the pick and return it 42 yards to the Cardinals 15-yard line, setting up the winning touchdown.
Warner said he tried to make a perfect pass, but thought he could take that chance because it looked like wide receiver Steve Breaston had been interfered with as he was running his route.
The fluky nature of the play and its impact on the game makes it all the more frustrating, he said.
"You just never play a perfect game, so any time you lose you're going to be skeptical and you're going to look back and wish you could do something different," Warner said.
Warner and the Cardinals will have to put the Washington game behind them while physically remaining in the D.C. area. Because their next game is at the New York Jets, Whisenhunt decided to keep the team on the East Coast rather than making two extra transcontinental flights in a week's time.
The Cardinals have struggled in the eastern time zone, going 2-15 since 2003.
"Really we didn't play well when we came to the East Coast last year. Yesterday's game was further evidence," said Whisenhunt, noting that many West Coast teams struggle with road games in the east. "Knowing that we have five games on the East Coast this year, this was an opportunity, especially back to back, to try something different, shake it up and maybe play a little bit better on the road."
While Warner said he would have preferred to return to Arizona, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said it might be an advantage to stay.
The Jets, he noted, will be coming off a Monday night game in San Diego "and then have to fly all the way across the country. So they've got some things they've got to deal with. I think we have an added advantage with them having to fly back from San Diego tonight."