Will Hernandez had never been ejected in an NFL game. He had never even been fined before, so Wednesday, he still wasn't sure exactly how it would all play out on his paycheck after the starting right guard was thrown out of the win in Carolina for making contact with an official.
"There is a first time for everything," Hernandez said about the fourth-quarter play, which came after he rushed to the defense of teammate James Conner. Conner had been thrown to the ground by Panthers linebacker Frankie Luvu after the play was blown dead.
But Hernandez doesn't regret what happened, because a teammate needed defending.
"I went out there to play football," Hernandez said. "Things happen sometimes in the game which is part of it. This time it happened to one of our guys. That's how I react. I take it personal. That's my boy. That's my teammate. I'm not just going to sit there and watch it happen."
Hernandez said he didn't say anything to the official after his ejection. "I just went inside, went back in the locker room like a good boy, followed the rules and that's about it," he said, although Hernandez did get a talk from offensive line coach Sean Kugler as he went off.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury noted that starting left guard Justin Pugh had already left the game with an injury so "we've got to be smarter than that."
"You do appreciate him having his teammates back and they all know that, but we can't put our team in that type of position," Kingsbury added.
Hernandez said defending his teammates is part of what an offensive lineman is about.
"When it comes to me getting ejected from the game, you guys know how I am," Hernandez said. "I went over there, get my teammate, and bumped into the ref unintentionally. Things happened the way they happened. Can't control it. As badly as I wanted to stay in there with the guys and finish the game, I couldn't have done anything about it.
"You guys can watch it and have your own opinions about it. I can't do anything about it. What I can do something about is our teammates getting done like that on the field, which isn't part of football."
The Cardinals lost a chance to be at the Carolina 3 because of Hernandez's choice, with the ball pushed back to the 18 and eventually meaning the Cards settled for a field goal to go up 13-10. But eventually, the Cardinals scored two touchdowns the balance of the fourth quarter.
Hernandez wasn't the only player to get heated in the moment. Tackle Kelvin Beachum got in Luvu's face too. But Hernandez got physical with Luvu aside from the official bump (which was apparently called from the command center in New York and not the officials on the field.)
"Anytime we see something like that, it fires us all up," Hernandez said. "It wasn't just me."