Kurt Warner’s storybook Arizona tenure, in photos

Feb 1, 2017, 7:00 AM | Updated: 3:16 pm

These days, when Cardinals fans think of Kurt Warner’s tenure with the Arizona, the memories are happy.

He led the franchise to Super Bowl XLIII as well as a pair of NFC West titles, and over his final three seasons threw for 11,753 yards and 83 touchdowns while posting a QB rating of 93.6.

It was an outstanding finish to what was a storybook career, and it is likely what will ultimately get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Overall, Warner appeared in 67 games for the Cardinals — including 63 starts — with varying degrees of success. Indeed, there were some incredible highs as well as frustrating lows, and it’s all part of what made his time in Arizona so memorable.

Here, we take a look back at it all, through the form of photos.

Warner signed with the Cardinals in 2005 and was supposed to be a key figure in the franchise's new look and turnaround. Warner battled injury in his debut season with the Cardinals, and was unable to securely grasp hold of the starting job. Warner's first season with the Cardinals was a bumpy one in which he started 10 games and threw for 11 touchdowns but was picked off nine times and fumbled six times while losing starts to Josh McCown. The Cardinals chose Matt Leinart 11th overall for a reason, with then-head coach Dennis Green referring to the rookie as a "gift from heaven." While Warner was still the starter, it was only a matter of time before the former Heisman Trophy winner would take over. Warner started the first four games of the 2006 season, but with the Cardinals having just one win and the veteran playing poorly in Atlanta, he was sent to the bench in the Cardinals' Week 4 loss to the Falcons. In came Matt Leinart, and from there it appeared Warner's days in Arizona were numbered. Warner played the good soldier, helping Leinart however he could and making sure to be ready whenever called upon. In 2007, though Leinart was technically the starter, Warner started to earn reps under first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt. Though Warner was playing better, Leinart remained the "starter" until when, in Week 5, he suffered a collarbone injury. In stepped Warner, who threw for 190 yards and one touchdown in an Arizona win. If anyone doubted Warner's toughness, he quickly ended that talk when he played through a torn ligament in his left elbow and went on to throw for 3,417 yards and 27 touchdowns in the 2007 season. Warner won a training camp battle with Leinart in 2008 and from there it did not take long for him to prove his previous season was no fluke. Eight games into the season, Warner had thrown for 16 touchdowns and six interceptions as the Cardinals were 5-3 and boasting an electric offense. With Whisenhunt coaching and the help of a young receiver named Larry Fitzgerald, Warner was able to reclaim his spot among the top QBs in the NFL. Warner was excellent in 2008, passing for 4,583 yards and 30 touchdowns with just 14 interceptions. Yet, while the Cardinals won the NFC West and had one of the league's best offenses, they were not really seen as much of a threat in the NFC. Part of the reason why few saw the Cardinals as a contender was the egg they laid in their final road game, which was a 47-7 loss in New England. Warner completed just 6-of-18 passes for 30 yards that day and was replaced by Leinart. Warner and the Cardinals began the postseason with a home game against the Falcons, and Warner got his team on the board early with a 42-yard touchdown pass to Fitzgerald. The QB finished the game with 271 yards and 2 touchdowns, while the Cardinals earned a 30-24 win. While beating the Falcons was nice, no one expected them to go on the road and knock off the top-seeded Carolina Panthers. Warner did not even have to do as much in this one, throwing for 220 yard and two touchdowns, as Arizona's defense was the day's star. Still, with the win, Warner and the Cardinals found themselves in the NFC Championship Game for the first time. With more help from Fitzgerald, Warner completed 21-of-28 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns in the conference title game. It was more thrilling than easy, but in the end, Warner and the Cardinals beat the Eagles 32-25 and advanced to Super Bowl XLIII. While the Cardinals as a franchise were in their first Super Bowl, this was Warner's third and his experience was something his less-seasoned teammates could lean on. Before the game, Warner was presented as the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year due to his contributions to the community off the field as well as his prowess on it. Warner played an excellent game, but was on the wrong side of one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history. With the Cardinals seemingly ready to score a touchdown and take a lead into halftime, his pass was intercepted by Steelers linebacker James Harrison and returned 100 yards for a score. Warner and the Cardinals were able to brush the pick-six aside and not only come back in the game, but actually take the lead late in the fourth quarter. But alas, the Steelers were able to mount one final touchdown drive, and Warner was only able to get the Cardinals to midfield before he was sacked and fumbled the ball. Only seconds remained in the game at the time, and when the clock reached zeros, Warner and the Cardinals had fallen painfully short. Warner was not as good in 2009 as he was in 2008, but still threw for 3,753 yards and 26 touchdowns in leading the Cardinals to a 10-6 record and a second consecutive division title. Warner had produced many good games throughout his career, but few could even come close to the Wild Card Round against the Packers. He completed 29-of-33 passes for 379 yards and 5 touchdowns as the Cardinals knocked off Green Bay 51-45 in OT. We did not know it at the time -- and maybe Warner himself was unaware -- but the victory over Green Bay would be Warner's last in the NFL. Warner and the Cardinals went into New Orleans and took an early lead, but proved to be no match for the eventual Super Bowl champions. The QB himself had to briefly leave the game after taking a vicious hit  during an interception return. Warner walked off the field for the final time having completed 17-of-26 passes for 205 yards and zero touchdowns with one interception in Arizona's 45-14 loss. With his family in tow, Warner announced his retirement from the NFL on Jan. 29, 2010. Warner was back in Arizona on Sept. 8, 2014 -- the season opener for the Cardinals that season -- as his name was enshrined in the team's Ring of Honor. In case you are wondering what Warner's name looks like up in the Ring of Honor, here you go.

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