TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – The Arizona Cardinals called receiver Anquan Boldin‘s sideline shouting match with the offensive coordinator a “normal thing,” and coach Ken Whisenhunt insisted the outburst would in no way disrupt the team.
Boldin and Todd Haley were seen arguing on television during the Cardinals‘ late touchdown drive in a 32-25 win over Philadelphia in the NFC championship game Sunday.
Boldin, going to his fourth Pro Bowl this season, did not participate in the postgame celebration on the field with his teammates.
“It was a heat of the moment thing,” said third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre, who was standing near the argument. “The fourth quarter of the NFC championship game and we were trying to win the game. Q wanted to be out there. It was a personnel package, there was no message being sent. You know big-time players want to be in the game at all times.”
Whisenhunt brushed the dispute.
“That’s a normal thing that happens,” he said. “It happened in the first quarter with Todd and Kurt (Warner) on the sidelines. It happened with a couple of our defensive players and our defensive coaches. It’s an emotional game. Yesterday was one of the most emotional you’ll play in.”
Asked about the timing of the brouhaha in the midst of such a crucial possession, Whisenhunt said, “Obviously it didn’t affect us being successful on the drive. I didn’t think that it was an issue, to be honest with you.”
Whisenhunt expects Boldin’s behavior to have no effect on the team.
“This is a highly competitive business,”‘ he said. “There are a lot of emotional swings that go into this game. We’re never going to agree on things, but we’ve always been able to move past that and continue to be focused on our goal.”
After the game, Boldin spoke briefly to a few reporters, praising the play of fellow receiver Larry Fitzgerald, then bolted for the locker room. He was gone when reporters were allowed inside.
Boldin missed the Cardinals‘ previous playoff victory at Carolina with a strained left hamstring but had practiced all week and was in the starting lineup on Sunday. He caught four passes for 34 yards and just missed a big play when Warner overthrew him down the middle.
Haley is an extremely vocal coach, and Warner said such yelling is nothing new.
“I don’t know what transpired there but I know that Todd and I have argued most of the games this year,” Warner said. “You just see things differently sometimes on the field in the heat of battle. As a player sometimes you want something and as a coach you see things from a different perspective — and your competitive juices just fire and you let it go.”
The heated exchange came during Arizona’s 14-play, 72-yard scoring drive that used up nearly eight minutes of the fourth quarter. While Boldin wasn’t in the game during much of the drive, he was in for the final play as a decoy.
Warner faked throwing the screen to Boldin, a play Arizona has used with great success this season, then tossed inside to Tim Hightower, who barreled over the goal line from 8 yards out.
Boldin has been playing all season despite a simmering contract dispute.
In training camp, he accused the Cardinals‘ management of lying to him by promising a new deal and not following through. He said at the time, and repeated later, that he would never re-sign with the Cardinals.
Asked if going to the Super Bowl would change his mind, Boldin said, “Next question.”
Boldin said he would not let the contract issue affect his play, and he lived up to his word with 89 catches for 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns in the regular season despite missing four games with injuries.
He has two years left on his current deal. Neither Boldin nor Haley were available to reporters on Monday.