CHICAGO - From five interceptions to five touchdown passes, Kurt Warner’s one-week turnaround couldn’t have been more emphatic. Nor could the beating the Arizona Cardinals put on the Chicago Bears.
Warner tied a career high by throwing for five touchdowns after getting picked off five times the previous week, Larry Fitzgerald added 123 yards receiving, and the Cardinals easily handled the Bears 41-21 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 intercepted.
“So much of this business is how you respond and how you come back,” Warner said. “I always want my teammates to know that I’m going to be there every week battling with them. And if I have a bad week, hopefully they can pick me up. If not, I’ll try to do my best the next.”
Two of his touchdowns went to Fitzgerald, who had his way with Charles Tillman before the cornerback left with a shoulder injury in the second quarter.
“Kurt played just phenomenal again,” said Fitzgerald, who has family in Chicago and spent summers here as a child. “He was making the right reads and getting the ball to the guys who were open. When we’re clicking like that, it’s hard to stop us.”
Warner was 22 of 31 for 261 yards and threw touchdown passes on the first four possessions as the Cardinals surged ahead 34-7 after three quarters.
The Bears (4-4) got within 34-21 after Zackary Bowman returned an interception by backup 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. That prompted the Cardinals to put Warner back 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, although he said it was fine.
“I’d felt better if somebody had been man enough and walked up to me and told me what the situation was,” Boldin said.
Despite missing one of their top receivers, the Cardinals (5-3) improved to 4-0 on the road.
And they didn’t have to contend with Chicago’s Tommie Harris. The three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle slugged offensive guard Deuce Lutui in the head as they were on the ground on the game’s first possession, resulting in his ejection, and the Bears quickly unraveled.
Particularly troubling to coach Lovie Smith was Harris’ hit.
“I know the result,” Smith said. “There’s nothing Tommie can really tell me.”
Harris did not make himself available to reporters after the game.
Cutler passed for 369 yards while completing 29 of 47 passes and was sacked four times.
The Bears have little time to regroup, with a Thursday night game at San Francisco.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
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. They only got worse from there.
His 11-yard touchdown pass to 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 open this game.
Arizona responded with a 74-yard drive Warner finished with a 6-yard pass to Ben Patrick that made it 14-7.
CSN: The Super Bowl's golden anniversary will be held in the Golden State. The new stadium, which opens in 2014, in Santa Clara will host Super Bowl L two years later, the NFL announced Tuesday.
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