The Not Ready For Prime Time Players did it again. They went out and embarrassed themselves on the big stage. Apparently, asking the Arizona...

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The Not Ready For Prime Time Players did it again. They went out and embarrassed themselves on the big stage.

Apparently, asking the Arizona Cardinals to win a big game in Seattle is like asking Tom Arnold to perform Shakespeare.

They can try, but it’s not going to be pretty.

“The disappointment is losing like we lost,” defensive lineman Antonio Smith said.

No argument there, and if you thought a 42-21 thrashing was ugly, you missed the worst part.

Moments after a loss that ceded the NFC West crown to the surging Seahawks, the somber morgue of a locker room suddenly was pierced by linebacker Darryl Blackstock, who became incensed at teammate Darnell Dockett.

What prompted Blackstock’s outburst was unclear, but he called defensive tackle Dockett a very bad word at a very high decibel level, telling the teammate that he didn’t know who he was dealing with and threatened to mess him up.

As the teammates were restrained, one Cardinals player commented, to no one in particular, that is exactly why they got “whipped.”

It was tough to tell who was more shocked about the infighting — the horde of media already in the room or the wide-eyed general manager standing in the corner. To his credit, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt immediately paid a visit to Dockett, and tempers calmed.

“Words were exchanged,” Dockett said. “There’s emotion when you lose a game you think you should win. … It’s nothing.”

As for the game, well, it went exactly as you feared. Except for the beginning, when the Cardinals took the opening kickoff, marched downfield with great conviction and quickly quieted Seattle’s notoriously loud crowd.

But then it all unraveled. Offensive tackle Levi Brown drew a false-start penalty that seemed to unmask the pretenders, and quarterback Kurt Warner promptly threw a terrible interception. For both men, the afternoon only got worse.

Warner threw five interceptions. Two of them came in small windows of the game when the Cardinals actually seemed to have a chance. He accepted complete responsibility, and it was the kind of performance that will have the Warner detractors convinced that the aging quarterback can’t be trusted with the football.

“I’ll take this one on my shoulders,” Warner said.

Meanwhile, Seattle defensive end Patrick Kerney simply abused Brown and should think kindly of the Cardinals’ rookie when sipping a mai tai at the Pro Bowl.

Although you can argue that the Cardinals did not quit and performed well in pockets, their successes occurred only when the game was out of reach.

Don’t mistake that for resiliency, folks. In the NBA, they call that garbage time. And it was painfully clear that the Seahawks were better all the way down the line, posting 24 points after four possessions of the football, and one must give credit to Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, who has a once-stagnant team peaking at the right time.

“They made us one-dimensional,” running back Edgerrin James said. “That’s exactly what you don’t want to happen in a game like this.”

If not for the fading playoff dream, it would be easy to say the perception of this game hurts worse than the reality. This was the toughest game left on the Cardinals’ schedule, and with Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck doing a fine impression of Tom Brady lately, there is no shame in losing to a team two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance.

The shame is in the way they lost. The Cardinals were not only smoked like salmon, but they also seemed to jump into the boat and onto the grill for their captors.

It was chillingly obvious which team was prepared to make the big plays and which team wasn’t, and unfortunately, we all have seen that movie before.

And more than anything, the real shame is that the Cardinals put themselves in a position where they really needed to win this game. But that’s what happens when you lose twice to the San Francisco 49ers.