Quarterback Kevin Kolb lets out a scream after hitting a 73-yard TD pass -- and getting hit -- during the Cardinals' loss in Washington Sunday.
The hit didn't knock Kevin Kolb's helmet off, but instead falling into right tackle Brandon Keith's backside jarred it loose.
That didn't make the crushing blow by blitzing linebacker London Fletcher any less painful, and Kolb did take a brief moment after getting up last Sunday – following his perfect 73-yard touchdown bomb to Larry Fitzgerald while absorbing the impact. Then he let out a primal scream as teammates rushed to his side in congratulations.
"I just hope, and they do, I hope they understand how much this means to me," Kolb said. "It's worth it for me to take that hit for that kind of play. It was a big point in the ballgame. It's unfortunate we didn't pull it out, but I am willing to go to battle every day."
Quarterbacks are going to get hit. Taking the pounding is one of the reasons Kurt Warner came to greatness, because he was willing to wait for the perfect time to throw his pass. It was also a big reason he retired despite still playing at a high level.
Just standing in to take hits alone isn't enough – Derek Anderson took some punishment at times last season. It has to be coupled with production.
The celebration with Kolb, post-scream, wasn't just about Fitzgerald's six points, however.
"Most of it was the fact he was standing in there," center Lyle Sendlein said. "You watch the play, he knows. They brought more than we could handle and you could see him do a soft roll to the right and throw a great pass knowing he was going to get blasted.
"It just shows he's more about the team than himself. It's something we are ecstatic about and thankful for."
There was a calculated risk. The Cardinals had five players out in pass patterns. The Redskins rushed five, but overloaded the left side of the Cards' line, bringing defensive back Kevin Barnes in the gap and Fletcher around the end. Left tackle Levi Brown did what he was supposed to, picking up Barnes – who had the quickest route to the QB – and that let Fletcher come the long way around.
Kolb had to wait for Fitzgerald to make his double-move and get open deep. Kolb moved a little bit right, on the "soft roll." Fletcher got closer. Finally Kolb let it go.
"All the guys in the locker room know how Kevin is," Fitzgerald said. "He's willing to take the big shot for the team. Everyone saw his helmet get knocked off. He's a fierce competitor who'll do anything to make this team go."
The Eagles saw that. Linebacker Stewart Bradley, who has been a teammate of Kolb's for Kolb's entire career, said Kolb has shown that to everyone he has played with in both Philadelphia and Arizona, and only a "crazy circumstance" of Michael Vick's reemergence cost Kolb a job with the Eagles.
Bradley was one of the players to meet Kolb on the sideline after the hit. "You can tell from the reaction of all the guys, everyone ran right to him," Bradley said. "To be able to stand there and make that throw, not everyone does that. I think guys appreciate not only the skill it takes but also the toughness."
It helps the team on multiple levels. Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said such a play doesn't necessarily inspire, but "it shows he's sacrificing."
"And he's putting a lot of trust in his receivers," Dockett said. "Like, 'Damn, if I'm going to get my head knocked off, at least you can do is catch the ball.' "
Kolb said he doesn't think one throw – or one hit – necessarily proved anything to his team, no moreso than his total body of work. But its execution and aftermath may be a microcosm of Kolb's value to his teammates.
"A quarterback has to have a lot of (expletive) heart, especially the good ones," Dockett said. "The good ones know they are gonna get hit."