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Warner still rules St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (Nov. 20, 2005) -- Celebrating victories in St. Louis is nothing new for Kurt Warner. It was running off the field to the visitor's locker room that distinguished his latest triumph.

The Rams' former hero won his first game in the town where he produced a pair of Super Bowl teams and a pair of MVP awards, throwing three touchdown passes in a 38-28 victory against his old team.

"As special as it was, I'm two years removed now and I don't feel like I'm as much a part of this organization as I did when I first left," Warner said. "You still have a lot of friends, I still love those guys over there and still enjoy competing against them."

Warner's first game in St. Louis since the team released him before the 2004 season was not nearly as dramatic as his emergence in 1999 from Arena League success. Still, he doubled his season total for touchdown passes in six starts and threw a pair of fourth-quarter scores that gave the Cardinals (3-7) breathing room at the finish.

This was Warner's first victory in five starts with Arizona.

"It's a continuation of the Kurt Warner story," coach Dennis Green said. "He's got a lot of football left in him."

The Rams (4-6) took another blow to flagging playoff hopes and lost quarterback Marc Bulger, the man who replaced Warner in 2003, for the second time this season with a shoulder injury. Bulger, who missed two games earlier, left with a bruise late in the third quarter.

"We expected to come in and win and get back to 5-5," safety Mike Furrey said. "It's devastating, it's disappointing."

Bulger also sustained a mild concussion on one of three sacks by Adrian Wilson, who also had a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Wilson piledrived him with a blindside hit.

"I don't know if he was expecting somebody to pick me up or not," Wilson said. "I don't know if they had a protection problem or what, but it obviously hurt their quarterback."

Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald both topped 100 yards receiving for the Cardinals, who split the season series with the Rams. Boldin caught eight passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, and Fitzgerald had nine receptions for 104 yards and a 7-yard score late in the fourth quarter.

Neil Rackers also continued a perfect season with three field goals, including a 51-yarder in the third quarter. He's 31 for 31 on the year, and his field-goal total is a franchise season record.

Fitzgerald's touchdown was one of three by the Cardinals in the final 8:11 that blew open the game, one of the scores set up by a 90-yard kickoff return by Reggie Swinton and a second by a lost fumble by Rams backup quarterback Jamie Martin.

The go-ahead score was a 9-yard catch by rookie Adam Bergen, his first career touchdown, that along with a two-point conversion catch by Boldin put the Cardinals ahead 24-17.

Warner was 27 for 39 for 285 yards to lead the Cardinals to a season high for points, and only their second 30-point effort of the season. He threw for 327 yards but no scores in a 17-12 loss at home to the Rams in Week 2.

The Cardinals stuffed the Rams' running game, holding Steven Jackson to 6 yards on 12 attempts. Jackson had the team's only two carries for minus-2 yards in the second half.

"They came out stopping the run," Jackson said. "They wanted us to prove we could move the ball down the field and until we do that I'm pretty sure that's what a lot of teams are going to do now."

Warner's return was something shy of an emotional homecoming given the Cardinals passed on a chance to get him a pregame ovation when they elected to introduce their defense instead. Warner got his first -- and only -- big cheer when he led the offense on the field for the first time early in the first quarter.

"You just never know, you're on the other side of the fence and you're wearing a different uniform now," Warner said. "I knew coming in I wasn't going to weigh a lot of what the response was, positive or negative."

He waved twice to the crowd before settling over center, upon which time the fans promptly deserted their former hero and began cheering to drown him out.

Notes: Isaac Bruce's 46-yard catch in the third quarter put the Rams ahead 17-16 and was the 76th of his career, tied for 20th place with Fred Biletnikoff and Harold Jackson. ... Warner fell 15 yards shy of becoming the Cardinals' first quarterback to throw for 300 yards in three straight games. ... Rams OG Blaine Saipaia, who split time with Adam Timmerman, sustained a concussion.

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