Larry Fitzgerald literally carried the Arizona Cardinals to the NFC Championship game after two integral catches against the Green Bay Packers in overtime. According to ESPN, Fitzgerald had only eight catches for an impressive 176 yards, but it was Larry’s overtime play that will go down in the history books as one of the most impressive performances in NFL history.
In a game in which neither team played perfect football, Cardinals fans were in disbelief when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers found wide receiver Jeff Janis in the end zone with a Hail Mary in the last five seconds of regulation play to tie up the game. After an unusual coin toss that landed twice in Arizona’s favor to give the Cardinals the ball first in overtime, in retrospect, it seemed like an omen that the Cardinals would twice look to Larry to get touchdowns necessary to win the game.
Forget about the Packers’ Hail Mary. In a matter of minutes, everyone would soon be hailing Larry.
As Carson Palmer scrambled and slipped past the Green Bay defense, his first pass to Fitzgerald sent the future hall-of-famer bolting down the field, slipping tackles and stiff arming the competition for a 75-yard-run. The next play would be an incomplete pass to Fitzgerald in the end zone, making Cardinals fans cross their fingers that Palmer wouldn’t throw another interception in the red zone. On the third play of the drive, however, Palmer once again looked to Larry Fitzgerald with a shovel pass. As the offensive line held their blocks, Fitzgerald tip-toed into the end zone for the game winner.
Carson Palmer said in the post game interview, “It was very appropriate for him (Fitzgerald) to finish the game that way. Especially to finish the game in the end zone to get the win. He means a lot to this team. He means so much to this community and it’s spectacular some of the things he does on the field.” Fitzgerald was given the game ball.
Larry Fitzgerald has been a member of the Arizona Cardinals for his entire professional career. Drafted in 2004, Fitzgerald has become a staple of the Cardinals organization with more than 13,000 total yards in the past eleven years. At 32-years-old, it would seem that Larry Fitzgerald should be gearing up for retirement soon, but the wide receiver seems to be having a career resurrection of sorts.
Fitzgerald seemed to struggle when the Cardinals originally brought in current Arizona head coach Bruce Arians, and many fans were perplexed as to why one of the best wide receivers in the NFL was relegated to making blocks more often than making catches. After a nagging knee injury in 2014, it seemed like Larry’s career might be coming to an end…then came the 2015 season.
In 2015, Fitzgerald has had more receptions than any other time in his career at 109 and growing. In the December game against St. Louis, Larry became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 1000 catches according to Fox Sports. Larry Fitzgerald is playing like a man on a mission, and perhaps no one understands that mission better than his own father, Larry Fitzgerald Sr. who told NBC during the post game, “My son wants to win a championship.”
But it’s not only Larry’s athleticism that has fans hoping Fitzgerald takes home a Super Bowl ring for the first time, it’s Larry’s overall character. Directly following the game, Fitzgerald took a moment to commend his teammates for their play, thank God, and in an especially classy move, give a shout out to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. Mortensen just announced on Friday that he would be taking a leave of absence to battle throat cancer. Fitzgerald, who lost his own mother to breast cancer, was sure to let the world know that he and the rest of the Cardinals were thinking about him and encouraged the commentator to keep fighting.
Will Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals go all the way? Tell us what you think!
[Larry Fitzgerald cover image via Christian Peterson/Getty Images.]