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Cardinals’ Fitzgerald makes more history in another loss

November 11, 2018

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) makes a catch against Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Orlando Scandrick (22) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The catch that Larry Fitzgerald secured late in the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday did nothing to change the outcome: another loss for Arizona in a season full of them.

It was hardly meaningless to the veteran wide receiver.

The catch moved Fitzgerald past Terrell Owens into second place on the NFL’s career reception yardage list. He finished the Cardinals’ 26-14 loss to the Chiefs with six catches for 50 yards, giving him 15,952 yards — behind only Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice.

“It happens to be Terrell Owens and I’m pretty close with T.O. His friendship and my relationship with him is invaluable to me,” Fitzgerald said afterward. “He means a great deal to me, and to be mentioned in the same breath with him means a lot to me.”

The biggest lament for Fitzgerald, though, was that the yardage he needed came when the outcome was decided. He was shut out on three targets in the first half as the Chiefs took a 20-7 lead.

“It’s always important for us to try to get our good players involved, and we try to do it a little early. We didn’t have an opportunity there,” Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said. “He didn’t have any catches, rather, so we came out in the second half really trying to find ways to get him the football.”

By the time the Cardinals did, it was too late.

Perhaps that was fitting considering Fitzgerald has pieced together one of the finest careers in NFL history relatively quietly, with some of his best seasons coming in the Cardinals’ worst years. The 35-year-old Fitzgerald has had at least 100 receptions each of the past three seasons, and five times in his career, while piling up nine seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving.

He has 40 catches for 407 yards and two touchdowns this season.

And while Fitzgerald is almost certain to fall short of the numbers he is accustomed to producing, he is nevertheless providing another year of invaluable service: He’s the steady, capable and wise veteran in the ear of Josh Rosen, who is expected to lead the Cardinals for years to come.

The rookie quarterback had plenty of bright spots Sunday, even though he was sacked five times and threw a pair of costly interceptions. He threw a touchdown pass to David Johnson, kept the offense moving, and did a fair job of checking out of plays that were bound to go nowhere.

He also made sure to find Fitzgerald down the stretch, ensuring he’d get his meaningful yardage.

“It’s frustrating that it comes in another loss,” Fitzgerald said, “but I think, offensively, we’re on the field a lot more. Would have loved to have more points, but it’s another step in the right direction. Almost 30 minutes of possession time, so I mean, we’re on the field. We were better on third down today. But there’s things we need to clean up.”

There are goals for Fitzgerald and the Cardinals (2-7) the rest of the way, too.

Fitzgerald needs eight more receptions to pass Rice (1,281 with San Francisco) for the most in NFL history with one team. And the Cardinals can prove they’re moving in the right direction under Wilks with a strong finish against a relatively tough schedule.

The Raiders are next, but games against the Packers, Falcons, Chargers, Seahawks and Rams loom.

Plenty of chances for Fitzgerald to add to his lasting legacy.

“This is something I’ll think about when I’m done playing. I can look back and reflect on it at a later time, but today is not the day,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to do that with the same team, to have so many wonderful teammates that continue to fight regardless of our record. I know we’re 2-7, but I love coming to work and playing for these coaches and playing with my teammates.

“It’s a great group of men,” he said, “and we just want to get it right.”

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