Quarterback Brian St. Pierre gets the ball and a hug from wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald after throwing his first NFL touchdown pass Sunday.
Larry Fitzgerald wanted the touchdown, but Brian St. Pierre did too.
The 58th touchdown of Fitzgerald's career was St. Pierre's first, a tangible reminder of the waiting game the Cardinals' third-string quarterback has endured.
So St. Pierre smiles when he notes he was going to go after the ball as a keepsake had Fitz not immediately given it to St. Pierre after the play.
"It was a class move for him to do that," St. Pierre said. "I appreciated it, and he won a lot of points with my parents."
The three-yard touchdown pass won't be forgotten by St. Pierre. Its circumstances – coming late in a blowout of a game that mattered little – served as a reminder, frustrating as it may be, over his NFL journey. St. Pierre, a seven-year veteran, has actually been in the league longer than Fitzgerald.
Yet the four passes St. Pierre threw against the Packers were quadruple his career total coming in.
St. Pierre hasn't given up on his NFL aspirations. He believes, if he were given the practice time and the reps, he can play quarterback in the league. He shakes his head at some of the men behind center for other franchises. He's convinced he could have given Matt Leinart a better tussle for the backup job in training camp if he hadn't suffered back trouble.
"I understand the situation here," St. Pierre said. "It's frustrating, but that's part of being a pro, it's part of the job. I love playing football and I'd love to do it as long as I can. I love being a Cardinal and I love being a part of the success we are having. Hopefully we can get on a run like we did last year, and that's something special to be a part of, even if you're not on the field."
There are these stories littered around a locker room, the smaller pieces to a team that helps push it to the heights the Cards have reached of late. Veteran defensive back Ralph Brown doles out wisdom in his corner of the locker room, even to players who take his playing time and, perhaps, one day his roster spot – yet came up Sunday with an 80-yard interception return to set up the Cards' lone score. Linebacker Monty Beisel was out of football half the year, but given the team's shortage at the position, was able to help out at just the right time. Running back Jason Wright has played well on special teams and filled in at fullback with Dan Kreider's neck problems even as his offensive touches have dwindled.
Of course, St. Pierre would probably trade spots with all of them, because at least those guys know they are playing.
St. Pierre can only wait, knowing it'll take disaster – at least this season – to see the field again. When coach Ken Whisenhunt told him before Sunday's game he would likely get some playing time, it was impossible not to feel a surge of adrenaline.
It really isn't enough – "I have bigger goals," said the free-agent-to-be – but it'll do for now.
"It is something I work on every day, practicing," St. Pierre said. "In the scheme of the season and this team, it's almost meaningless, but for me, it did have meaning.
"At the same time it's not like I went home and had this big sigh of relief. It was fun, I was glad I could contribute and you're happy to get your name in the record books."
The Cardinals finished the season with a red-zone touchdown efficiency percentage of 70.4, the best in the NFL, after the scored 38 touchdowns in 54 trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line. The Colts, at 66 percent, were second.
Quarterback Kurt Warner's 98.9 passing rating in the playoffs is second in NFL history behind the Packers' Bart Starr (104.8).
The Cardinals were the only team in the NFL not to have back-to-back losses this season.
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