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Milestones, Mixed Emotions For Fitz

Posted Dec 19, 2010

Notebook: Cards extend touchdown return record in loss to Carolina

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald consoles kicker Jay Feely after Feely's last-minute onside kick didn't work in the Cardinals' 19-12 loss to the Panthers Sunday.


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The records keep coming for Larry Fitzgerald, yet it doesn’t bring a smile to his face. Not in the situation the Cardinals are in.

The Pro Bowl receiver had his second 100-yard day this season (nine catches, 125 yards) Sunday while becoming the first player in franchise history to have 600 receptions (he has 601) and the fastest player in NFL history to reach that plateau at 27 years, 110 days. He also is the second-fastest player to 8,000 yards (8,053), behind Randy Moss (26 years, 297 days) and his 25th 100-yard day puts him two behind Anquan Boldin’s franchise mark of 27.

His reaction to all that? Noting he has never been on a team with just four wins after 14 games.

“Another milestone I’ve hit,” Fitzgerald said after the Cards’ 19-12 loss to Carolina. “I just want to win my last two ball games. It’s been a rough year.”

Fitzgerald’s season has been tumultuous given the issues at quarterback, but with two games remaining, his numbers should look “normal.” He’s now at 78 catches for 986 yards and five scores, which extrapolate out to 89 receptions for 1,127 yards.

He looked like he had gained more chemistry with rookie quarterback John Skelton, although Fitzgerald said Sunday’s statistics were “a little skewed.”

“We got down, they were in the prevent defense,” Fitzgerald said. “We need to do it early in the game and we weren’t able to do it early in the game.”

The same thing was echoed by Skelton, who acknowledged the more he plays with Fitzgerald the better off the two will be.

“At the same time there were plays where the guys were running wide open and I’m throwing it behind them,” Skelton said.

YET ANOTHER RETURN TOUCHDOWN

The Cardinals’ extended their own franchise record Sunday with a 10th return for a touchdown. Amazingly, three have been “returns” of their own fumbles – such a play does count as a return – including Sunday, when Tim Hightower caught a screen but fumbled inside the 10-yard line, only to see wide receiver Steve Breaston jump on it for six points.

That’s two weeks in a row, after defensive tackle Darnell Dockett grabbed linebacker Daryl Washington’s goal line fumble against Denver last week. Tackle Levi Brown pulled it off earlier this season when he grabbed quarterback Max Hall’s fumble and fell into the end zone.

“The ball leaked out, but that’s not how you want to score touchdowns,” Breaston said. “You don’t want to score off of mistakes.”

THE ONSIDE ATTEMPT

The call by coach Ken Whisenhunt could’ve worked. He called for an onside kick to begin the second half, surprising the Panthers. The problem? Kicker Jay Feely’s attempt – designed for him to tap it forward and fall on it himself – wasn’t quite hard enough and the ball came to a stop about eight yards upfield.

Feely waited as long as he could, but without the requisite 10 yards it didn’t matter when the Panthers fell on it.

“I felt it was there and it was there,” Whisenhunt said. “But you know in that situation if the kick comes up short, if you touch it, they get it anyway. It was obvious. (Linebacker) Reggie (Walker) came in and blocked his guy. The ball sat on the ground forever. It was something we worked on. I felt like it was there and we just didn’t execute.”

A second onside attempt at the end of the game – a similarly designed play – went 10 yards but was recovered by Carolina.

INJURY UPDATE

The Cardinals had two players leave Sunday’s game not to return. Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling suffered a hamstring injury – the same injury that had bothered him earlier this season – while wide receiver Early Doucet left the sideline on a cart late in the game with a hip problem.
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