Coach defends Wilson's big hit against 'Niners

Updated: October 27, 2003, 6:22 PM ET
ESPN

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona coach Dave McGinnis is proud of how rough his Cardinals played in their 16-13 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

He feels one of the biggest hits, safety Adrian Wilson's slam into tight end Jed Weaver, was unfairly called a personal foul. Wilson knocked Weaver's helmet off and sent him crashing to the turf.

The ensuing personal foul penalty kept San Francisco's drive alive and the 49ers went on to score the game-tying touchdown.

Officials said it was an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit. But after studying videotape of the play, McGinnis said Monday that Wilson's shoulder pads knocked the helmet loose and there should not have been a penalty.

It was third-and-seven on the Arizona 45 with 9:21 to play in regulation when Wilson's hit knocked the ball loose for an incomplete pass.

"It looked like it was helmet to helmet because it looked like their was a head rolling down the field," McGinnis said. "That's defense. That's the way you play. What he did two plays later, that's not defense. That's not what this league is about, and he should have been ejected. But I'll defend his hit."

The personal foul moved the ball to the Arizona 30, then two plays later, Wilson drew another personal foul and was thrown out of the game for kicking Weaver in the face away from the action.

"They had the lead. I don't know why you would do that," Weaver said after the game. "He's one of the starters, one of their guys, so to do something that stupid, you know, get yourself kicked out of the game, that's definitely not helping your team. He'll get a letter from the NFL on Wednesday asking for a donation to charity."

Arizona had a bye, and McGinnis had put the Cardinals through two difficult weeks of practice. The first week, he reverted to a training camp format, with extra individual work. Last week, things got physical, and spirited, with two fights among players in Thursday's practice.

The result was one of the hardest-hitting Cardinals' games in recent memory. He was especially pleased with both the offensive and defensive lines, and he singled out rookie defensive end Calvin Pace, who earned his first NFL sack and recovered a fumble.

"That was a huge, huge win for us, for a lot of reasons in a lot of ways," McGinnis said. "The way this football team responded throughout the bye week, what I put them through, how they banded together. That was a very physical football game yesterday."

But the coach knows that the upset victory won't mean much if his team falls at home to Cincinnati next Sunday.

"We're not going to have a parade tomorrow because we won yesterday," he said. "We're 2-5. There's a lot left to this season. We have to get to 3-5 before we can ever do anything else."

McGinnis said he still has confidence in kicker Tim Duncan, who missed three field goals Sunday before hitting the game winner from 39 yards in overtime. He made one from 53 yards, but missed a 50-yarder that would have won the game at the end of regulation.

"The only thing I said to him at all after that was `I'm going to need you later on," McGinnis said.

Bill Gramatica, who beat out Duncan for the kicking job in training camp the past two seasons, is sidelined with a back injury that might require surgery.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index