Fitzgerald, Whisenhunt risked own legacies

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Cardinals named a few starters inactive Sunday to guard against aggravating injuries.

They removed most of their defensive starters shortly after Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie suffered a knee injury less than two minutes into the game against Green Bay.

But with third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre under center deep into the fourth quarter, Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald stayed in the game to pad his stats. Coach Ken Whisenhunt was OK with the associated risks even though an injury had already knocked out the team's other elite wideout, Anquan Boldin.

"Larry wanted the touchdown and he wanted 100 receptions," Whisenhunt said Monday. "That was something that was important to him and that is the competitive side of Larry. You weigh those risks. We talked to Larry during the game about that and Larry wanted to continue to play."

Fitzgerald caught his 13th touchdown pass of the season. He finished with 97 receptions.

"Those are important milestones to him as a player and we certainly respect that," Whisenhunt said. "It is a risk and it is something you would feel sick about had he gotten injured at the end. But I have no doubt in my mind that was what Green Bay was trying to do with Aaron Rodgers yesterday as far as the passing statistics. We are talking about something that is important to the player as far as his legacy in the league and I certainly do respect that."

Fitzgerald and Whisenhunt both put their legacies on the line Sunday. They got away with it, but that doesn't mean they made the smart decision. It would have been a defining moment for both had Fitzgerald suffered a serious injury trying to catch passes from the third-string quarterback in garbage time.