GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — It was barely a year ago that the Falcons visited Arizona and returned home with a three-point overtime loss.
"Our offense scored enough points for us to win," Atlanta safety Lawyer Milloy said. "We just didn't get the stops we needed at some critical junctures in the game."
Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner improved his career record to 7-1 with 21 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 117 passer rating against the Falcons.
Warner will face Atlanta for the first time in the postseason when Arizona (9-7) hosts the Falcons (11-5) in the wild-card round Saturday.
The veteran quarterback will oversee his third team that had three receivers catch at least 75 passes in the regular season. It's a feat that's occurred just five times in the NFL. Warner did it as St. Louis' quarterback in 2000 and '02 with Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Marshall Faulk as his targets.
This year, with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston, Warner passed for 300 or more yards eight times, giving him 48 in his career to rank fifth on the NFL list.
Against Atlanta on Dec. 23, 2007, Warner completed 36 of 53 passes for 361 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He moved the Cardinals down the field in nine plays to set up Neil Rackers' tying field goal with no time remaining in regulation.
Rackers ended the 30-27 victory with a 31-yarder after Arizona won the overtime coin flip and Warner connected with Boldin and Fitzgerald for a combined 53 yards on four catches. Warner's performance reminded Milloy of the relentless drive he witnessed firsthand six years ago, when Milloy helped New England win its first Super Bowl with an upset victory over the Rams.
"He's a fierce competitor, and that's the reason why he's in the position he is now," Milloy said. "He has a receiving corps and a team that rallies around his competitive nature. Guys are going up and getting balls for him."
The difference for Atlanta's secondary this year is a new staff (secondary coach Alvin Reynolds and coordinator Brian VanGorder) as well as the addition of free safety Erik Coleman, left cornerback Domonique Foxworth and nickel back Chevis Jackson. Reserve corner Brent Grimes, who made his NFL debut last year at University of Phoenix Stadium, also will take some snaps in schemes that call for the Falcons to use a sixth defensive back.
Right-side starter Chris Houston and Milloy are Atlanta's returning starters.