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David Johnson, J.J. Nelson Spark Offense

Posted Dec 24, 2016

Notes: Fitzgerald can't throw under pressure; Rookies step in after injuries

Cardinals running back David Johnson had another big game against the Seahawks.

SEATTLE – The sky was clear here on Saturday afternoon, a rarity in the Pacific Northwest.

J.J. Nelson and David Johnson made sure there was still lightning to see at CenturyLink Field.

The second-year duo put together monster games against a staunch Seahawks defense, leading the way in the Cardinals’ 34-31 win. Nelson finished with three catches for 132 yards and a touchdown, while Johnson continued his ridiculous season with 95 rushing yards, 41 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

Johnson surpassed 100 yards from scrimmage for the 15th straight time this season and now has more touchdowns than games played in his career.

 “Thirty-three touchdowns in 31 games, that’s rarified air right there,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “He’s on Mount Everest.”

Nelson scored an 80-yard touchdown, as quarterback Carson Palmer threw a beautiful pass to hit him in stride behind a pair of Seahawks defensive backs.

“J.J., he’s healthy, and he’s an explosive player,” coach Bruce Arians said. “We sent Larry through the middle. We knew that would get J.J. one-on-one with a corner. All we needed was time. Carson bought time and put it out there for him.”

Nelson has now scored five touchdowns in his past four games, taking advantage of a bigger role over the past month.

Johnson surpassed 2,000 yards from scrimmage in the victory and has the franchise-record with 20 touchdowns this season, three more than anyone else with one game left to add to it.

“Every adjective to describe him is spot-on,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “There’s not one that’s a reach. He’s spectacular.”

Fitzgerald is already pestering General Manager Steve Keim to give Johnson a contract extension because his price keeps going up.

“He’s going to be, like, 10 percent owner of the franchise by the time his deal is up,” Fitzgerald said.

FITZGERALD NOT COOL UNDER PRESSURE

Fitzgerald got his chance to play quarterback in the first half, taking a pitch and taking aim at a streaking Johnson down the sideline.

The pass fell woefully short, and Fitzgerald explained why after the game.

“I realized I’m a clean pocket passer,” Fitzgerald said. “I was asking Carson, ‘How do you keep your eyes downfield when you see a guy barreling down on you?’ I’d never been in that position before. Seeing Michael Bennett coming down on you, I went from here looking downfield, then I saw him. I just tried to chuck it out there, man. It wasn’t good.”

Palmer said Fitzgerald will get a refresher next week at practice.

“On Wednesday when we come back, we’re going to do some drills where he’s got to step into some throws when guys are coming to hit him,” Palmer said. “That’s the first time he’s been in that situation, but he’ll bounce back.”

ROOKIES SEE ACTION AFTER INJURIES

Safety Tony Jefferson injured his knee before playing a defensive snap, forcing rookie cornerback Harlan Miller to play the position for the first time. Right guard Taylor Boggs went down early and rookie center Evan Boehm stepped in for him.

The Cardinals entered Saturday’s game already short in both the secondary and on the offensive line, but both units held up fairly well. Miller, fellow rookie Brandon Williams and reserve cornerback Justin Bethel were all thrust into prominent roles because of injuries.

“Those guys in the secondary – Harlan has never played safety – and to jump out there and play like they did,” Arians said. “Evan Boehm jumping in on the offensive line, everybody put their hand in the pile.”

Jefferson is doubtful to play in the regular season finale because of his injury, Arians said.

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