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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Matt Leinart Breaks Out! 15 of 21 for 144 and 1 TD; 'Zona Tops Bears 23-16

Once he gets set in the system, look out!

Leinart shines in Cards' win over Bears

NFL.com wire reports

CHICAGO (Aug. 25, 2006) -- Matt Leinart showed why the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the 10th pick in the draft.

Leinart took over for Kurt Warner in the second quarter and completed 15-of-21 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown to lead the Arizona Cardinals over the Chicago Bears 23-16 in preseason action.

He entered the game with 5:13 left in the second quarter and completed 12 consecutive passes at one point, while leading the Cardinals (2-1) to a field goal at the end of the first half and a touchdown early in the third quarter.

Leinart completed all six passes on his second possession as the Cardinals drove 54 yards in the final minute of the half, Neil Rackers' field goal extending their lead to 10-6.

After Antrel Rolle intercepted Rex Grossman on the opening possession of the third quarter, Leinart went 4-for-4 as the Cardinals drove 42 yards against the Bears' first-string defense for a touchdown that made it 17-6.

Warner wasn't bad, either, going 8-for-11 with 73 yards and touchdown pass.

As expected, the Cardinals' Edgerrin James did not play much. He carried three times for minus-2 yards on the game's opening possession and did not return. In three preseason games, he has 1 yard on seven attempts.

Grossman was 13-of-21 for 117 yards and an interception after two rough preseason games for Chicago (1-2) but did little to end the quarterback debate among fans.

Backup Brian Griese was cheered when he entered with about five minutes left in the third. Then, he went 10-for-14 for 131 yards and a touchdown, and heard a "Griese! Griese!" chant late in the game.

Bears running back Thomas Jones did little to distinguish himself, rushing for 3 yards on four attempts in the first half after missing the first two preseason games with a pulled left hamstring.

Jones, who rushed for 1,335 yards last season, was dropped from No. 1 on the depth chart for missing voluntary offseason workouts. But the anticipated competition between him and Cedric Benson hit a snag before the first practice at training camp.

Jones pulled his hamstring while running during a physical on July 27.

Benson, meanwhile, got hurt and got into trouble.

The No. 4 draft pick in 2005, he missed his third game with a sprained left shoulder and is questionable for the preseason-finale at Cleveland. And the Bears disciplined Benson for leaving the sideline last week against San Diego and missing a mandatory postgame meeting.

After completing 10-of-25 passes for 130 yards in the first two preseason games, Grossman hit his first five and led a first-team offense that was scoreless in the preseason to a field goal on the Bears' first possession.

The Cardinals took a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter, the 67-yard drive culminating with Warner's 4-yard pass over two defenders to a leaping Leonard Pope in the right corner of the end zone.

Chicago's Robbie Gould kicked his second field goal - a 39-yarder - with 5:21 left in the half to make it 7-6, and he lined up for a 32-yarder with 1:00 left in the half. But the Bears called time, went for it on fourth-and-1, and Adrian Peterson got hit for a loss.

Leinart, who reported late and passed for 45 yards against New England last week in his preseason debut, hit Larry Fitzgerald for a 27-yard pass that helped set up Rackers' field goal. Leinart's 4-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson made it 17-6 early in the third.


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