After stripping Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to cause the game to end (left), cornerback Michael Adams tears up as he walks off the field in Sunday's win.
Walking alone to the locker room after making if not the biggest at least the latest play for the Cardinals Sunday, Michael Adams cried.
The Cardinals' reserve cornerback had had a miserable game against the Packers. He committed four penalties, was picked on repeatedly with Green Bay passes and blew a sack at the end of the first half that would have short-circuited a Packers' field-goal drive.
"I was crying tears of joy," Adams said. "I really needed that. I was having a rough day."
Adams sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the first series of overtime, forcing the fumble teammate Karlos Dansby returned for the game-winning touchdown in a 51-45 Wild Card victory.
Adams said he was helped by various teammates, like running back Tim Hightower and cornerback Bryant McFadden, constantly giving him encouragement.
"Tim came right to me and told me, 'You're going to make the play to win this game,' " Adams said of a second-quarter pep talk. "I believed.
"It's so easy to believe when every time you come out, you have a different teammate telling you the same thing."
Adams wouldn't have had a chance for his play had kicker Neil Rackers converted a 34-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in regulation. Rackers missed left, setting up Adams' heroics.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he never considered taking Adams out in favor of rookie Greg Toler, despite Adams' struggles, noting big plays Adams made against the Giants (a pass breakup) and Vikings (an interception).
"He has battled Larry (Fitzgerald) and battled Anquan (Boldin) in practice every day for two years and there is a toughness you get from doing that," Whisenhunt said.
There's also a resiliency to Adams, one that never let him think he wouldn't find redemption.
"I think Neil missed the kick on purpose just to give me another chance," Adams quipped.
NO WARNER RETIREMENT – YET
Fitzgerald wanted no part of the suddenly burgeoning retirement talk around quarterback Kurt Warner.
"We're not going there," Fitzgerald said, before adding, "Kurt's coming back. He's going to probably come back for another four or five years. That's the rumor around here."
It would make sense after Warner ended up with more touchdown passes (five) than incompletions (four) Sunday. But as always, Warner – who is signed through 2010 – said he is going to revisit the possibility of retirement after the season (whenever that is) and avoid an emotional decision.
"That's easy to do, whether it's after a game like this to say 'I'm going to play forever,' or after a bad game to say 'I'm done,' " Warner said. "I don't think you ever want to stay too long, but you never want to go out before it's time."
As the Cardinals expected, wide receiver Anquan Boldin was not able to play because of ankle and knee injuries. As the Cards hoped, the replacements – particularly Steve Breaston and Early Doucet – played very well in Boldin's absence.
"If one guy goes down we always have somebody that can step in and replace him," said Doucet, who had six catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Breaston had seven catches for 125 yards and a TD.
"When you have a guy like Kurt Warner, it really doesn't matter," Doucet added. "Guys just need to be where they need to be and he's going to make everything else happen."
A NEW BREED OF FULLBACK
The Cardinals promised some new wrinkles for the game and delivered a big one on their first drive: a jumbo backfield with defensive linemen Darnell Dockett and Gabe Watson as twin fullbacks in front of running back Tim Hightower.
The result? An easy 1-yard touchdown run by Hightower through a very big hole.
"They put athletes everywhere," Dockett said. "I told Whiz when we were practicing, 'I'm only going to one chance at it probably, and if we score, maybe you could move me way in the back and let me get the ball. He said, 'Well, let's get this one first.' "
Watson said the Cards have been practicing the formation for about a month.
"(Tackle) Levi (Brown) said you never know if the offense scores or not – you have to listen for the crowd," Watson said. "My guy went low and I tried to almost cradle him, and heard crowd go crazy and I was like, 'Levi was right.' "
Said Hightower, "I love it. They're going to hit whatever is in front of them. I went to jump and they cleared everything out of these so I didn't really need to."
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