Warner down, but is he out?

NEW ORLEANS - Kurt Warner's pass had just been intercepted, and the Arizona quarterback charged over to help make the tackle. Before he had a chance, he was flattened by a big defensive end.

The hit may serve as an omen for a man considering retirement.

“Every time you take a hit like that, it makes you think twice about playing this game,” Warner said with a laugh. “But something like that, or even this game, will not be the determining factor on my decision.”

A week after one of his best games, Warner was no match for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in their divisional playoff game Saturday night. Warner threw for 205 yards and no touchdowns in the Cardinals’ 45-14 loss.

Now he’ll have to decide whether to return next season or call it a career. Warner missed a game with a concussion earlier this season, and there’s been widespread speculation that the 38-year-old is about to retire.

“I have some ideas in my head,” Warner said, “but again, you want to get away from the season for a minute and make sure everything you’re feeling stays that way.”

He was hurt in the second quarter against the Saints, leaving with a chest injury after he was intercepted by Will Smith and hit by 260-pound Bobby McCray while in pursuit of Smith. Warner returned at the start of the second half with his team trailing 35-14, but the Cardinals never threatened after that, and backup Matt Leinart came back in late in the game.

Warner said he doesn’t anticipate a drawn-out decision-making process about his future.

“I would never want to do that, either way, to an organization,” he said. “I want to let them know as soon as I know for sure.”

Last weekend, Warner threw for 379 yards and five touchdowns in a 51-45 overtime win over Green Bay. There would be no repeat performance against New Orleans – except on defense.

After giving up 35 points to Green Bay in the second half, Arizona allowed 35 in the first half against the Saints, a pace Warner and the offense couldn’t match.

This game was close for just a while. After taking a 7-0 lead, Arizona gained only 41 yards the rest of the first quarter in falling behind 21-7. It was 28-14 when Warner got flattened.

Warner finished 17 of 26. His longest pass was his first one, a 28-yarder to Jerheme Urban, who fumbled and the Saints recovered. New Orleans drove for a 14-7 lead and never looked back.