GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Cardinals list cornerback Michael Adams at 5-feet-8. He may be that tall in clogs, but Adams' high, raspy voice still carries throughout the Cardinals locker room -- especially when the defensive secondary gathers for its weekday poker games.
"Money Mike, I call him," linebacker Karlos Dansby said. "He's always got something up his sleeve."
Adams played with a losing hand through much of Sunday's epic, 51-45, Arizona overtime win in the first round of the NFL playoffs Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Playing in nickel situations, and also spelling injured cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Adams was whistled for four penalties and missed a third-down sack opportunity of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers that Green Bay converted into points.
"I was definitely struggling," he said.
With each mistake, the pressure mounted.
|Michael Adams bounces back from a sluggish start by forcing the game-changing fumble in OT. (AP)|
Imagine if all prayers induced this sort of response.
With Green Bay seemingly on its way to victory after winning the overtime coin toss in a game where defense took a hiatus, Adams came on the same corner blitz he had missed earlier in the game.
This time, he stripped Rodgers of the ball as he tried to pass. The ball bounced off Rodgers' foot and into the waiting hands of Dansby, who returned it 17 yards for the winning score.
It was redemption of the sweetest variety.
"That's kind of been the theme of our team," Cards coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "He had an opportunity in the game early to make a play on a sack and the guy got out. Obviously, there were a couple of penalties called on him, but he battled.
"That's what you like about Michael."
Whisenhunt said he never thought about taking Adams out because he kept remembering the big plays Adams made earlier in the season against the Giants and Vikings (interception).
"The reason Michael is on our roster is because of his ability to fight," Whisenhunt said.
Safety Adrian Wilson said Adams' mistakes should not be singled out because they were part of a comedy of errors by the defense.
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"Did you see that insanity out there?" Wilson asked. "Aaron Rodgers was on fire. He could do no wrong.
"We're not going to cut Michael because he committed four penalties. We all made mistakes. The only thing that matters is he made the play to win the game for us."
Adams knew he had a tough assignment Sunday. When Rodgers-Cromartie left last week's season finale early with an injury, Adams saw plenty of playing time and the Packers picked on him all day.
Sunday saw more of the same.
"You start to force plays so you can get out of the doghouse," he said.
In the midst of his struggles, Adams said teammates kept encouraging him while prodding him to step.
"[Cornerback] Bryant McFadden told me I was going to make a play to win the game," Adams said. "He really said that."
And then the opportunity presented itself.
"I was just hoping he didn't release that ball," Adams said. "I mean, you come in 12 times and 11 out of those 12 times he would get that ball out. That 12th chance, you get a chance to hit him and I got my 12th chance."
None too soon.
"I'm glad he came up with the play he did," said safety Antrel Rolle, who gutted through a painful quadriceps injury. "Honestly, I don't think I had another play in me."