Receiver Larry Fitzgerald goes out on a pattern Sunday in New England.
There was no one smiling wider on the sideline Sunday following the Patriots' missed field goal than Larry Fitzgerald.
But clearly, the Pro Bowl wide receiver wants the Cardinals' offense to do more, and that would probably start by making sure a player like Fitzgerald ends up with more than just one catch for four yards as he finished with against New England.
"It's unfortunate," coach Ken Whisenhunt said of Fitzgerald's lack of chances. "There were a couple of opportunities. Larry had one catch that was erased. The slant, we could have gotten that one, and there were a couple other ones where now you are talking about five or six catches and we're not even having this discussion.
"Larry is going to have his catches. We're certainly going to make sure we work on that."
Fitzgerald was targeted five times, and had the aforementioned catch wiped out because of a penalty. The Patriots made sure they were not going to let Fitzgerald beat them. On some plays, Fitzgerald drew double coverage with one of the defenders leaving his back to the play just to make sure he shadowed Fitzgerald, without an ability to know what else was going on.
"Coach (Bill) Belichick is not the best coach in history for no reason," Fitzgerald said. "He's done it for a long time. He does a great job defensively. It was good to get out with a win, to be honest."
The Cards only completed 15 passes the entire game. Tight end Todd Heap led the team with nine targets and five receptions against New England's Cover-2 looks.
Being a decoy "is part of it," Fitzgerald said. "I'll get my opportunities. When they come, I've got to make my plays."
WORDS OF ADVICE FOR WILLIAMS
The day after running back Ryan Williams could have coughed up a valuable win with a crucial late fumble, Whisenhunt said he relayed his personal story of Jerome Bettis.
Bettis, if you recall, fumbled near the goal line in the Steelers' road playoff game in Indianapolis following the 2005 season. It looked like it would cost Pittsburgh the game until Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed what was a makeable field goal. Bettis went on to star for the Steelers the rest of the playoffs as Pittsburgh – and offensive coordinator Whisenhunt – won the Super Bowl.
"The next two weeks Jerome was huge for us and that's the type of mentality that you have got to have," Whisenhunt said. "You have to learn from it and you have to go forward. (Ryan) is a good, young player. I know he was torn up about what happened in the game, but that's going to happen when you have young players. We put Ryan in there and he made some good runs for us at the end of the game, which we thought we had a chance to win the game without ever having to give it back to them.
"This was unfortunate, but our team stuck together and we found a way to win, and that's really all that matters. You learn from it. It's a lot easier to learn from it in this situation. That's for sure."
Whisenhunt said while the way the running backs are used are sometimes package-driven, Williams was in the game at the end instead of Beanie Wells because "it was (Williams) time to go back in."
HEAP BANGED UP
Tight end Todd Heap said he sprained his knee and was day-to-day. He was hurt on a late hit, something he noted.
"I've seen that happen before and unfortunately it was my turn," Heap said. "I don't know if there is a reason to come in and hit guys late like that, but it happened and you move on."
Whisenhunt said he didn't know yet if quarterback John Skelton will be healthy enough on his ankle to return to practice this week.
"It really depends on how he can do with the movement stuff, being able to push off on the ankle. It's getting a lot better. You've seen him walking around now, so we know he's getting closer, but until he can take a drop and move around in the pocket, we won't know much."