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Cardinals learn of long-term losses after victory over Pack

December 3, 2018
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FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2018, file photo, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) runs for a touchdown after a catch against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game in Glendale, Ariz. Kirk broke a foot in a game Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, at Green Bay and is out for the season. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals’ satisfaction from their stunning victory over the Packers in Green Bay has been tempered by news that rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk and starting left guard Mike Iupati are out for the season with injuries.

Kirk, who was developing into a dynamic force on offense, has a broken foot. Iupati, who has battled injuries throughout his time with Arizona, has a knee injury.

“Christian, a great season,” coach Steve Wilks said at his Monday news conference. “There’s no setbacks for 2019. I’m real excited to get him back, did some great things. You can see from the game yesterday, really progressing and moving in the right direction.”

A second-round draft pick out of Texas A&M, Kirk is second to Larry Fitzgerald with 43 receptions and leads the team with 590 yards receiving. He caught three passes for 54 yards and had a 23-yard gain on a fly sweep before being injured in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 20-17 win. That 23-yard run was followed by a 37-yard reception, Josh Rosen’s longest pass of the day, and led to Zane Gonzalez’s 44-yard field goal that tied the game at 10.

Kirk stayed in for a couple of plays after he was injured.

“It says a lot about his personality, his character,” Wilks said. “He tried to fight through it. He went out there a couple of more plays and tried to endure but the pain was just too much for him.”

The Cardinals expect a lot from Kirk in future seasons.

“I’ve said it before, this guy’s a pro’s pro,” Wilks said. “The way he prepares, the way he comes in each and every day is very exciting to see, so the future’s very bright with him.”

Iupati started 10 games this season and missed two due to injury after taking a pay cut to return this year. His departure further mixes up an offensive line that was going with its eighth combination of starters this season in that game. Colby Gossett, signed off the Minnesota Vikings practice squad a month ago, filled in for Iupati.

The injuries did not diminish the magnitude of the unexpected win. The Cardinals were in a dark place after consecutive losses to Oakland and the Los Angeles Chargers left them 2-9. Some were criticizing their effort, but they went into cold, snowy Lambeau Field and won there for the first time in nine tries. They hadn’t won at Green Bay in 49 years, which was pre-Lambeau.

Two-touchdown underdogs, Arizona’s victory cost Packers coach Mike McCarthy his job. McCarthy was fired a couple of hours after the game ended.

It was just the second loss for Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in 18 games at Lambeau in the month of December. His last home loss in December was Dec. 7, 2008, vs. Houston.

“Growing up you see how dominant Green Bay is in December, especially at home,” said Cardinals rookie running back Chase Edmonds, who rushed for both Arizona touchdowns in a breakout game, “but you know coach Wilks talked about it all week, we’re going up there to win a football game and nothing else.”

Arizona rushed for a season-high 182 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per attempt.

Rodgers, meanwhile, had one of the worst home games of his career, completing 31 of 50 passes for 233 yards. His passer rating of 79.8 was 30 below his career home average. Green Bay’s 17 points were its fewest at home since Dallas held the Packers to 16 two years ago. Aaron Jones managed just 36 yards on 11 carries. He entered the game averaging six yards per carry.

It was that kind of day for the Packers. And all of it against an Arizona defense that surrendered 45 unanswered points in a 45-10 loss to the Chargers the previous week.

“I thought it started with our disguise,” Wilks said. “I thought we did a great job of really just trying to show him different looks.”

There was no bigger play than Fitzgerald’s sliding grab of Rosen’s 32-yard throw to convert a third-and-23 late in the game. Fitzgerald just got his hand underneath the ball and cradled it from the turf.

“Phenomenal,” Wilks said. “Typical of Larry. I don’t think nine times out of 10 somebody else probably wouldn’t make that catch.”

The Cardinals moved on to get the game-winning 44-yard field goal from Gonzalez, signed by the team just a week earlier.

It was just the third win of the season for the Cardinals, who are home against Detroit on Sunday. The players had a rare Monday off because of the equally rare victory.

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