Quarterback Max Hall gestures to the fans after the Cardinals' 30-20 victory over the Saints Sunday.
Max Hall was belted by three Saints defenders near the goal line, his helmet flying off and the ball popping loose, and while tackle Levi Brown picked it up and scored a touchdown, Hall was hurting.
The wind was knocked out of him and he was woozy, enough so that backup Derek Anderson came in at the end of the first half for a couple of passes. And earlier, Hall was limping around after taking a blow to his left shin on a sack.
"You're not going to keep me out of a game," Hall said. "I'd have to be out cold to not go back in a game or (have) something broken. … It's going to be hard to keep me out."
That isn't happening anytime soon otherwise, not after Hall's first NFL start produced a 30-20 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Saints. Hall made his mistakes and credited the defense (with four forced turnovers and two touchdowns) with spearheading the win, but for now, it seems that the Cards have a potential quarterback of the future.
"The guy fought. He scrapped. He's just the ultimate competitor," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "I haven't seen a guy take a hit like that, down at the goal line, in a while. He picked himself back up and shook off the cobwebs and helped us win."
Hall completed 17 of 27 passes for 168 yards and threw an interception on his second pass. The Cards' lone offensive touchdown was Brown's semi-miracle – "It was a fumblerooskie (and) we executed it perfectly," Hall cracked – and the Saints stumped the Cards' run game (41 yards on 24 carries) because they weren't afraid of the passing game.
But Hall did enough to walk off the field a winner, waving to his family in the crowd and then raising his helmet in triumph as he went into the tunnel to the cheers of the fans.
"All that matters in this league is winning," Hall said.
Hall was the first undrafted rookie quarterback to start in Week 5 or earlier since Jim Zorn opened the season for Seattle in 1976 (excluding the strike-torn 1987 season).
"He bounced back and made some plays for us," Whisenhunt said. "He missed a couple of plays today. But he made a few, and I really like that."
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN IN A RUSH
It may have been the most effective play the Cards had Sunday – Hall fumbles the ball, and an offensive lineman jumps on it for a positive play.
Not only did Brown score on a two-yard touchdown – his first TD ever, at any level, he said – but another fumble by Hall during a sack was jumped on by guard Alan Faneca for a 10-yard gain.
"It's something we built into the offense, yeah," Faneca joked. "When we had a little extra time last week, we worked on it."
The play on which Brown scored actually was in trouble from the start. Whisenhunt said the Cards were in the wrong formation and then the receiver that would have been open on the play went the wrong way. Fortunately it worked out.
"I was actually more concerned Max was OK," Brown said. "I didn't even know it was a touchdown. Seems like it took the referee forever to signal a touchdown. I was just standing there. Then I got a little excited."
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said he never thought about taking a knee after making his interception late in the game, citing the fact the Saints ran up the score against the Cardinals in last year's playoffs.
"I was thinking touchdown the whole time," DRC said. "I wasn't thinking no knee."
But after watching the 49ers lose a game last week when Nate Clements tried to run back an interception with a lead and ended up fumbling away the ball, Whisenhunt said that won't work in the future.
"I can sit here and say now I'm glad he took it in because he scored, but the first thing that came to my mind was to get down because we could have run the clock out," Whisenhunt said. "We have to be aware of that. Our defense has been beat up so much I can understand wanting to score and wanting to make some positive there, but we also have to learn as a team we can't do that."
Aside from Hall's issues, wide receiver Stephen Williams (back/ribs) and linebacker Reggie Walker (hamstring) left the game and will be reevaluated this week.
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