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Leinart Struggles in Debut

From the Associated Press

In the first minute of his NFL career, Matt Leinart looked like a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback -- running a hurry-up offense that impressed even Tom Brady.

For the rest of the game, there was little for Leinart and the Cardinals to be happy about.

“To go against this team on this field and get something in my first drive, that was pretty cool,” Leinart said after his debut, which featured a quick 54-yard drive that netted Arizona its only points in a 30-3 loss to the New England Patriots on Saturday at Foxborough, Mass.

But he spent the rest of the game resembling what he is -- a rookie with almost no real practice experience.

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Five days after reporting to the Cardinals’ training camp, the 2004 Heisman winner from USC entered Arizona’s exhibition game with 1:09 left in the first half. He promptly drove the Cardinals down the field to set up Neil Rackers’ 48-yard field goal, scrambling for 29 yards in two runs and completing three of six passes for 20 yards in the drive.

That was against a New England defense made up mostly of regulars.

The Patriots’ starters should have stayed in the game. In the third quarter, Leinart was only one of five -- a 25-yard completion to tight end Eric Edwards -- and was sacked twice. He finished four of 11 for 49 yards.

“I don’t think anyone could have expected any more,” said Kurt Warner, Arizona’s starter, who two years ago helped break in Eli Manning with the New York Giants. “I thought he did a great job in the two-minute drill. He handled the situation well.”

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In other exhibition games:

Brad Johnson and rookie Tarvaris Jackson each threw for a touchdown and the Minnesota Vikings beat Pittsburgh, 17-10, at Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger, who started despite an injury to his right thumb, threw for a touchdown on the Steelers’ opening drive.... Carolina defeated Jacksonville, 17-10, at Jacksonville, Fla., with Byron Leftwich playing two series for the Jaguars and completing four passes for 52 yards.

Daunte Culpepper played into the second quarter, completing seven of nine passes for 86 yards and leading a nine-minute touchdown drive to help Miami to a 13-10 victory over Tampa Bay at Tampa, Fla.... Brett Favre guided the Packers on their first two touchdown drives of the exhibition season and Green Bay defeated Atlanta, 38-10, at Green Bay, Wis.

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Derrick Blaylock made a bid to win the New York Jets’ starting running back job with 46 yards in 10 carries in a 27-14 victory over the Washington Redskins at Landover, Md.... Mario Williams, the No. 1 pick in the draft, drew the Rams into two penalties, batted down a pass to force a punt and tackled running back Tony Fisher for a three-yard loss in the Houston Texans’ 27-20 victory over St. Louis at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.... Rookie Mike Bell scored two touchdowns in the Denver Broncos’ 35-10 rout of Tennessee at Denver. Bell ran 10 times for 73 yards. LenDale White led the Titans with 28 yards in seven rushes in his NFL debut after sitting out last week for spitting on a teammate during practice. Titans rookie quarterback Vince Young completed 11 of 19 passes for 125 yards and also scored a touchdown on an 11-yard run.

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Baltimore running back Jamal Lewis will sit out the next two weeks because of a strained left hip flexor. He began training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list after injuring himself running sprints in late July.


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