Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis refused to blame the upper respiratory infection that hampered a couple of his players throughout the week for Sunday’s 20-17 loss, but it did make a difference.
Safety Adrian Wilson did not start but played the entire second half and admitted afterward his body wasn’t doing everything he wanted it to late in the game because of lingering fatigue from the illness.
“It’s tough when want to go out and fight and you can’t,” Wilson said. Tackle L.J. Shelton never came out despite his bout with the illness and said that might have been a mistake. He was cramping badly in the fourth quarter because of dehydration.
“I stopped sweating, and I didn’t really notice until I got the cramps and they said, ‘You’re dry, you’re dry,’ and I was like, ‘Oh (expletive),’ ” said Shelton, who got an IV at halftime. “I was in some pain in that fourth quarter.”
It might have had an effect on Shelton’s speed on a first-quarter play that resulted in Josh McCown’s interception, which was returned for a touchdown. The play happened when defensive end Al Wallace flew past Shelton and hit McCown as he threw. Shelton said the play was a double read and he was supposed to move down on the snap to pick up a blitzing linebacker.
The linebacker backed out of the blitz, Shelton said, and he was late getting back to Wallace. He couldn’t have been helped by his infection.
“I’ll take the blame for (the interception),” Shelton said. “I’d rather take the pick than him taking the pick.”
McCown said that while it didn’t feel good, the crunching sack he took from defensive end Julius Peppers on the Cards’ last offensive play didn’t hurt him as much as the helmet-to-chin hit he took from linebacker Will Witherspoon. The play resulted in a key 15-yard penalty and swelling to McCown’s chin afterward.
But he said he was fine, and while McGinnis said McCown would “absolutely” start next week in Seattle, McCown was more reserved about his role.
“We’ll see what happens,” McCown said. “I just want a chance to get this taste out of my mouth.”
DON’T GO YET
Cardinals punter Scott Player had an embarrassing moment right before halftime, thanks to the Panthers. The Cardinals were attempting to run out the clock and when Emmitt Smith was stopped for a 3-yard loss with less than 17 seconds left, Player ran into the tunnel toward the locker room.
The problem was the Panthers burned a timeout and then another after another Smith run while trainers ran to the tunnel to chase Player down. He ran back on the field just as he was needed to punt the ball on fourth down with four seconds left. He booted the ball out of bounds as the clock ran out and then sprinted to the locker room again.
If McGinnis is fired at the end of the season, expect one coach to offer him a job — Carolina’s John Fox. The two are friends and Fox is expected to call McGinnis about a spot on his staff. . . .
The crowd was announced as a sparse 23,217, the fourth time in seven home games the team has sold less than 25,000 tickets.