Larry Fitzgerald, late in the game, took aim at the Atlanta defender. Fitz was in the middle of one of his better statistical games of the season, but the Cardinals were getting blown out, time was just about up, and here Fitz was in the middle of a 26-yard catch-and-run and he decided he needed something extra. For him.
“I was just frustrated,” Fitzgerald said. “If it had been a different scenario I would’ve tried to avoid him, tried to score a touchdown. I needed to release a little bit of frustration and anger.
“I told him I was sorry. I knew he was banged up earlier in the game. I just needed a little contact.”
The frustration went through all of the Cardinals Sunday. It was an ugly loss in a season with too many, a fourth time they had a defeat of 26 points or more (and only a late TD pass from Mike Glennon to Trent Sherfield against the Falcons made that number lower than 33.) It started so well. Josh Rosen led a TD drive, the defense played well on a couple of possessions, and it felt like maybe – just maybe – it would be Green Bay, Part II.
Instead, when it was over, Steve Wilks was asked about his concerns about his job status – “My focus right now is on the Rams,” he said – and Fitz was asked about his coach.
“The heat’s on all of us,” Fitzgerald said, adding, “I love coach Wilks and I believe in what he stands for. We will continue to fight for him.”
-- I haven’t changed my mind. I think starting Josh Rosen is absolutely the right thing to do for the final two games. But I also agree he needed to come out Sunday. It had become the law of diminishing returns.
-- The Julio Jones-versus-Patrick Peterson matchup only lasted about a half, before the game got out of hand and Jones added bad ribs to his bad foot and played little. Peterson did OK. Jones did make a 21-yard touchdown catch with Peterson in coverage, but Peterson was in a good spot – “It was a great job in coverage,” Wilks said – and Jones just made a Hall-of-Fame-type play on a great pass from Matt Ryan. Jones certainly was not the reason the Cardinals were on the wrong end of the score.
-- Sherfield’s first score came in front of all of his family, which was cool – except for the part that it came at the end of a blowout loss. “It was an amazing feeling,” Sherfield said. “Those people here helped mold me to the man I am today. To share that moment with me was everything.”
Sherfield said he was going to give the ball to his brother, whose birthday was Sunday.
-- It was also David Johnson’s birthday Sunday, and he looked like he was going to have a heck of a game. On the first drive he ran for a TD, caught a 40-yard pass, had a 15-yard catch-and-run to set up the TD. After that though, the Falcons clamped down. Chase Edmonds and even T.J. Logan got much of the late work.
-- The Falcons have had trouble running the ball all season. It’s a big reason many believe that team will likely have a top-10 draft pick instead of making the playoffs. But they ran for 215 yards Sunday. If there is anything the Cardinals’ defense is going to regret more from this year, it is the maddeningly inconsistent way it handled the run.
-- David Amerson left with a possible concussion, meaning Brandon Williams got his first work on defense this season. It’ll be interesting to see how Wilks judges the work. The Falcons targeted Williams the very first play he was in there. He broke up the pass.
-- Fitz on the losing: “It’s disturbing. It’s frustrating. You hate it. But I try to find the silver lining in everything.”