Kurt Warner completed his first 15 passes and broke the NFL's single-game record for completion percentage, and the Arizona Cardinals dominated the Jaguars in a 31-17 victory Sunday.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With a huge lead, an NFL record and a sore right shoulder, Kurt Warner headed to the bench late in the third quarter against Jacksonville.
He never expected he might have to re-enter the game.
Warner completed his first 15 passes and broke the NFL's single-game record for completion percentage, and the Arizona Cardinals dominated the Jaguars in a 31-17 victory Sunday.
"Kurt's found the fountain of youth somewhere," teammate Larry Fitzgerald said. "I don't know where it is, but we're blessed to have his services. He played error-free football to put our offense in a great position. When he's back there in that kind of rhythm, it's hard to deal with him."
Jacksonville trailed 24-3 after two quarters — the largest halftime deficit at home in team history — and was down 28 points before mounting a mild comeback.
The only good news for the Jaguars (0-2)? Hardly anyone in Jacksonville saw it. The game was blacked out on local television, and the stands were half full.
They missed Warner put on quite a show for Arizona (1-1). He was 24 of 26 passing for 243 yards, with two touchdowns, no turnovers and no sacks. He was much sharper than he was last week, when he threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.
"It was nice the way I played last week to come back and have this kind of game," Warner said.
Warner tied Jake Plummer's franchise record by opening the game with 15 consecutive completions. By completing 92.3 percent of his passes, he broke the previous NFL record set by Vinny Testaverde in 1993. Testaverde, playing for Cleveland, completed 21 of 23 passes against the Los Angeles Rams.
"We didn't let nothing go over the top," Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis said. "If he would hit 20 balls deep, then that's something we don't want to be a part of. But we wanted him to check the ball down. We just have to tackle better."
Warner hooked up with Jason Wright for a 5-yard score late in first half, then found Larry Fitzgerald for a 22-yarder to make it 31-3 late in the third.
Not wanting to risk injury, coach Ken Whisenhunt replaced Warner with former first-round draft pick Matt Leinart. But Leinart struggled, and Jacksonville rallied.
David Garrard found Marcedes Lewis for a touchdown on third-and-long, then hooked up with Mike Sims-Walker for a score on a fourth-down play that made it 31-17.
With the Jaguars driving, Warner started getting ready. But Garrard's fourth-down pass into the end zone bounced off Nate Hughes' shoulder pads.
"I just missed it," Hughes said, holding back tears. "I saw it. I just missed it. I can't even explain it. Very disappointed. I was pretty much hoping to get another chance the next drive, just get another shot."
The Cards finally celebrated after Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted Garrard's pass with 2:25 to play.
"Obviously, we weren't making the plays necessary to continue drives," Garrard said. "We can't keep shooting ourselves in the foot. We were the ones pretty much stopping ourselves."
Jacksonville's biggest problem might have been a questionable non-call. Officials didn't whistle pass interference on Adrian Wilson in the second quarter. Wilson hit Torry Holt just before Garrard's third-down pass got there, but no flags were thrown.
So instead of Jacksonville getting a first down, Josh Scobee lined up for a 46-yard field goal attempt that would have cut the deficit to 10-6. Calais Campbell blocked the kick, and Antrel Rolle scooped up the loose ball and returned it 83 yards for a touchdown and a 17-3 lead.
"Once I had the ball in my hands, I knew I could take it the distance," Rolle said.
It wasn't all good for Rolle. He had one of nine fumbles in a sloppy game. Arizona had five of them — all in the first half.
Maybe it was the heat and humidity or just East Coast jitters. After all, the Cards went 0-5 on the East Coast in the 2008 regular season.
"This was a good win for us, especially a 1 o'clock game on the East Coast, which is something that hasn't been done in a long time," Whisenhunt said. "I know there were a lot of crazy plays, but I like the way our team responded on both sides of the ball."
Warner barely got touched, and the one time he did, the play was negated because of an offsides penalty.
The Jaguars were even more inept on offense — at least until they hit desperation mode. Rookie tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton struggled again. Sims-Walker caught six passes for 106 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 66 yards. Garrard was 23 of 43 for 282 yards.
But he was sacked four times and fumbled three times, and the Jags had three turnovers and eight penalties.
"As an offense, you can't sputter like that," Jones-Drew said. "That's what we did. We have to find a way. It comes down to us manning up and assuming the blame and looking in the mirror and see what you have to do better as a man to change."
NOTES: Jaguars CB Derek Cox (concussion) and WR Troy Williamson (shoulder) left the game and did not return. Cards RT Levi Brown left with a sprained left ankle, but returned.
Cards rookie RB Beanie Wells had two of the nine fumbles.
Jacksonville's worst halftime deficit came on Dec. 17, 1995, at Detroit. The Jags trailed 27-0.