Unless you've been in bed sleeping off a two day hangover since the end of the NFC Championship game, you've been blasted by news that Anquan Boldin got in a screaming match with offensive coordinator Todd Haley and that he left the field before celebrating with his Arizona Cardinals teammates. No one quite knew what caused the argument at the time and some speculated anything from being replaced by Steve Breaston, to play calling to simple jealously, but as more people study the tape a new theory is surfacing. Both Kent Somers and Mike Sando are now saying that they think the root of the problem was that Boldin was replaced in the line up not by Breaston but by rookie, Early Doucet.
Somers doesn't go into much of an explanation but he just mentions that the argument wasn't live and that he guesses it might have been caused by Doucet replacing Boldin earlier in the drive. Sando goes into a more detailed explanation stating that the argument was shown on the telecast with 5:44 left in the game but that it's obvious that it wasn't live. He considers what Boldin said on NFL Live and traces it back to play around the 9:24 mark when Boldin was replaced by Early Doucet. According to Sando, two plays earlier Boldin jogged off the line on a running play while Larry Fitzgerald sprinted off the line. Sando concludes with a great play by play breakdown of who's on the field on each play:
- 10:39: Edgerrin James loses 1 yard on first down. Fitzgerald runs aggressively off the line. Boldin jogs off the line.
- 10:00: Kurt Warner finds Fitzgerald for a 15-yard gain. Boldin and Steve Breaston are the other receivers.
- 9:24: Warner finds tight end Leonard Pope for a 9-yard gain. Fitzgerald and rookie Doucet are the wide receivers. Doucet has replaced Boldin.
- 8:47: James loses 1 yard. Breaston is the only wide receiver on the field. The Cardinals are using two backs and two tight ends. Fitzgerald would usually be the wide receiver in this personnel grouping.
- 8:03: Fitzgerald replaces Breaston as Arizona sticks with the same one-receiver personnel group. Hightower gains 1 yard. Before this play, with about 8:20 remaining, cameras showed Boldin standing near Whisenhunt on the sideline, hands on hips.
- 7:57: Arizona sticks with the same personnel. Hightower gains 6 yards on fourth-and-1.
- 7:21: Arizona goes back to two-receiver personnel. Fitzgerald and Boldin are the receivers. James gains 2 yards.
- 6:36: Arizona changes to three-receiver personnel. Boldin is back on the field. Warner finds Fitzgerald for an 18-yard gain.
- 5:52: James gains 3 yards from one-receiver personnel. Fitzgerald is the receiver. After this play, Fox replays show Boldin and Haley arguing. More than 3 minutes of game time has passed since Doucet replaced Boldin.
- 5:13: Arizona sticks with one-receiver personnel. Warner finds Fitzgerald for a 6-yard gain.
- 4:26: Arizona sticks with one-receiver personnel. Hightower gains 5 yards on third-and-1. Teams often use only one wide receiver in short-yardage situations. Though the Boldin-Haley spat is fresh in our minds following the replay, Boldin might not have been on the field in this situation either way.
- 3:44: Boldin is back on the field for first-and-goal from the 9. The Eagles stop James for no gain. Fitzgerald is the only other wide receiver on the field (two tight ends are also lined up as receivers on the play).
- 3:06: Arizona goes with four wide receivers. Boldin is one of them. Hightower gains 1 yard.
- 2:59: Arizona sticks with four wide receivers. Boldin is again one of them. Warner finds Hightower on a screen for the go-ahead touchdown.
While I don't think the argument will carry over the Super Bowl (or have any influence on the game), I'd still like to know what caused such a sore spot with Boldin that he didn't celebrate something that's been so important to him the past six seasons. Anyone buying these theories? Do you care what happened and why or would you rather just move on?