Defensive end Calais Campbell (left) is concerned for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie after Rodgers-Cromartie hurt his knee Sunday.
Like everyone else, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie believed he blew out his left knee.
"I thought that," the Cardinals' Pro Bowl cornerback said, after the third play of the game Sunday that even coach Ken Whisenhunt said was "kind of scary."
"I told them not to touch me," Rodgers-Cromartie added. "I didn't want to be touched I was hurting so bad."
The Cards didn't have anything to play for and it showed in a 33-7 loss to Green Bay. The main goal was to keep their lineup healthy, yet by the time the game ended, three key players were left in limbo going into next week's playoff rematch against the Packers.
Rodgers-Cromartie ended up not with torn knee ligaments but a bruise on his knee cap and cuts, all coming when the cleat of Packers tight end Jermichael Finley came up and hammered DRC's knee on the play. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin got his left leg trapped underneath him in the second half, coming up with a sore knee and ankle. And defensive end Calais Campbell must have his left thumb tested further after getting hurt, but he was wearing a cast afterward.
The Rodgers-Cromartie injury seemed to set a tone for the rest of the game.
"I don't know if it deflates you but yeah, it shocks you," quarterback Kurt Warner said. "The bottom line is you want to get out of this game healthy, because you know from a seeding standpoint, a placement standpoint, it doesn't really matter. He gets banged up, not knowing how serious it is, yeah, you want to be healthy. We don't want any of our big guns hurt."
Boldin said he'd be fine and that he "did right just by getting out of there." But Boldin also said he didn't necessarily feel he should have been out before the injury.
"They asked me to go one more series," Boldin said. "I'm not one to shy away from competition. I don't regret anything about today as far as going in and competing, even at that point."
Rodgers-Cromartie didn't flinch when asked about his status next week, saying bluntly, "I'm playing ball."
Campbell said he needed to see what further tests said, but noted, "I'm pretty tough."
THE OTHER QUARTERBACKS
With Warner coming out after a quarter, the Cards used both backup Matt Leinart and Brian St. Pierre to the finale. St. Pierre, who came in for the fourth quarter, had thrown just one regular-season pass in his seven-year NFL career, quadrupled that total Sunday. He completed two of his four throws for 12 yards, including a three-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald, and also threw an interception.
"At one point we thought about making Kurt the third quarterback and not playing him at all," Whisenhunt said. "I decided I wanted to give him a couple of reps. I knew at that point Brian was the third quarterback and we couldn't put him in until the fourth quarter (but) I did have the intention of playing him."
Leinart struggled. Playing the middle two quarters, he completed 13-of-21 passes for 96 yards and two interceptions and had a third pick called back because guard Reggie Wells was called for holding in the Arizona end zone, resulting in a safety.
"It wasn't his best performance today," Whisenhunt said. "The big thing for him is to bounce back. A lot of good work he's done doesn't shake my confidence in him."
FITZ'S FULL GAME
Fitzgerald's TD was his 13th of the season, setting a single-season high. Fitzgerald needed six catches to reach 100 for the season, but had just three (for 17 yards). Given the way the game went, his presence on the field near the end of the game came as a surprise.
"Coach didn't ask me to come out," Fitzgerald said. "That's my job to play ball until he tells me to come out. You've got to be committed to the cause."
Said Whisenhunt, "Fitz, we couldn't get out. I think he wanted the opportunity to get the touchdown. … You can't sit everybody, so we tried to do it the best way we could. In Anquan's situation, I wish he'd come out one play earlier."
GRAHAM TIES MARK
Punter Ben Graham landed three of his four punts inside the 20, giving him 42 on the season to tie the NFL record that San Francisco's Andy Lee set in 2007. Graham finished with a 47.0 average this season, and never had a touchback after the third game of the season.
BOLDIN REACHES 1,000
Boldin had three catches for 38 yards, giving him his fifth 1,000-yard season. He finished with 84 catches for 1,024 yards, trailing only Fitzgerald (97 for 1,092) on the team.
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