Broncos 29

(3-1, 1-1 away)

Cardinals 23

(2-2, 1-1 home)

9:00 PM ET, August 31, 2006

U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ 

1 2 3 4 T
DEN 9 6 0 1429
ARI 3 17 3 023

Leinart sprains shoulder in Cards' loss to Broncos

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler know their day will come in the NFL. For now, a solid preseason finale performance will have to do.

Only a shoulder injury to Leinart dampened a showdown between two of the league's quarterbacks of the future in Denver's 29-23 preseason victory over the Cardinals on Thursday night.

The left-handed Arizona rookie went out with a sprained right shoulder when he was sacked late in the third quarter.

An MRI is planned for Friday, but Leinart said the injury was no big deal. He said the shoulder popped out of its socket when he was hit, then back into place as he jogged off the field.

Leinart was sacked by Patrick Chukwurah with four minutes left in the third quarter, and shook his shoulder in pain as he went to the huddle. He stayed in for one more play, completing an 8-yard pass before leaving.

"It was kind of a fluke thing. It just got out of socket a little bit and I was running off it was kind of hanging there, but I popped it back in and it was fine," he said. "I could have gone back in and played if I had to."

Before that, the game was a showcase for Leinart, the No. 10 pick in this year's draft, and Denver's Cutler, the No. 11 pick.

Leinart, who came on in relief of starter Kurt Warner early in the second quarter, completed 10 of 15 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Cutler, who started and played the first half, was 12-of-18 for 190 yards, including touchdown passes of 84 and 24 yards. But his first NFL interception was returned 24 yards by Robert Tate for a score.

"That's part of being a quarterback," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said. "You're going to have some good games and bad games, but I was really pleased that after the interception he took us on a long two-minute drive and was able to make some plays and get us in the end zone."

Cutler gave himself a B-minus for his overall preseason play.

"I might be chillin' for the rest of the season now," he said. "I mean, it's different. It's kind of like a redshirt year back in college, but hopefully Jake stays healthy and we keep winning. I'm just going to be there to support him and try to push him during practice."

Warner, playing against Denver's second-string defense, was 10-of-12 for 132 yards in a little over one quarter, setting up Neil Rackers' field goals of 21 and 29 yards. Denver's Jake Plummer did not play.

Mike Bell, the undrafted rookie from the University of Arizona who is a front-runner for starting running back for Denver, gained 74 yards in nine carries. Tatum Bell had 48 yards and nine attempts and Cedric Cobbs 34 yards in eight attempts. Ron Dayne, recovering from a turf toe injury, didn't play.

Shanahan said he didn't feel comfortable putting Dayne in a game yet, and he wanted to give the other three backs an equal shot.

"I thought we needed to have those guys compete today and find out if anybody would separate themselves," the coach said.

Arizona led 20-9 in the second quarter and 23-15 in the third, but the Broncos' reserves, with Bradlee Van Pelt at quarterback, scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Cutler's first touchdown pass of the night went 84 yards against Arizona's first-team defense. He faked a handoff, then threw downfield to a wide-open David Kircus, who outran the defenders to the end zone.

After Neil Rackers kicked two field goals, Leinart relieved Warner and directed the Cardinals 87 yards in 11 plays, capped by a 17-yard touchdown pass to Troy Walters. Leinart was 5-for-6 for 77 yards on the drive, which included Marcel Shipp's 3-yard run on fourth-and-inches from the Denver 20.

On Denver's next possession, Tate picked off Cutler's pass over the middle and returned it 24 yards for a score to put the Cardinals ahead 20-9 with 1:51 left in the half. It was Cutler's first interception with Denver.

"I read the quarterback's eyes and he told me it was coming," Tate said. "We saw that in practice and on film. I just read his eyes and broke on the ball."

But Cutler brought the Broncos back, throwing 24 yards to Todd Devoe for a touchdown 6.2 seconds before halftime. Cutler's 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete."

Game notes

Edgerrin James played briefly, catching two passes for 11 yards. ... Sixteen players caught passes for Arizona. ... Shanahan praised Van Pelt's performance, solidyfing his spot as the No. 3 QB.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

denFG9:15Micah Knorr 27 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 63 yds, 5:53
ariFG4:41Neil Rackers 13 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 63 yds, 4:29
denTD4:34David Kircus, 84 yd pass from Jay Cutler
Drive info: 1 plays, 84 yds, 0:17
ariFG12:52Neil Rackers 21 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 71 yds, 6:40
ariTD3:25Troy Walters, 17 yd pass from Matt Leinart (Neil Rackers kick is good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 87 yds, 5:22
ariTD2:00Robert Tate, 24 yd interception return (Neil Rackers kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 3 yds, 1:18
denTD0:12Todd Devoe, 24 yd pass from Jay Cutler
Drive info: 9 plays, 70 yds, 1:54
ariFG7:25Neil Rackers 25 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 15 plays, 58 yds, 7:44
denTD13:53Cecil Sapp, 10 yd pass from Bradlee Van Pelt( run for 2pt conversion)
Drive info: 9 plays, 70 yds, 4:36
denTD10:11Tatum Bell, 1 yd run
Drive info: 4 plays, 51 yds, 1:49