Larry Fitzgerald has never spiked the ball before in his life before slamming it to the turf Sunday after his two-point conversion, the ultimate exclamation point on a dramatic late touchdown drive to give the Cardinals a victory.
Seems Fitz’s son Devin chose to go to the state fair instead of supporting Dad at the game.
“My feelings were a little hurt,” Fitzgerald said, a smile creasing his face. “I was carrying that around all day and I kind of let it out.”
The Cardinals might’ve found a way to get Devin interested again, with rookie quarterback Josh Rosen’s touchdown pass to fellow rookie Christian Kirk – and Fitzgerald’s subsequent two-pointer – with 34 seconds left giving their team an 18-15 win at State Farm Stadium to beat the San Francisco 49ers.
It took into the fourth quarter for the offense of new coordinator Byron Leftwich to truly click, but 15 points in the final period tends to breed excitement. Running back David Johnson had his best game of the year, with 100 scrimmage yards on 20 touches. And, oh yeah, so did Devin’s dad, with Fitzgerald coming up with season-highs in catches (eight) and yards (102) along with a touchdown catch that gave the Cards (2-6) a chance to win.
“We really didn’t change too much in the offense,” said Rosen, who completed 23-of-40 passes for 252 yards, the two touchdowns and an interception. “The one thing Byron is really good with is his demeanor. … He’s got really good timing with a lot of his playcalls, he’s a steadying force for us on offense.
“It wasn’t going too good in the first half, and he did a really good job of helping us sort of rally together. It wasn’t a pretty one by any means, but baby steps.”
The Cardinals beat the 49ers for a second time this season, securing their first win at home in 2018, heading into their bye week. They did it by surpassing 300 yards in offense for the first time this season (321), which was only possible with their 186-yard fourth-quarter outburst.
There’s a chance it didn’t have to come to that. The Cards were moving well on their penultimate possession, with tight end Jermaine Gresham rumbling 13 yards inside the 49ers 30 – only to lose the ball on a fumble that was originally given back to the Cardinals but later overturned.
The defense forced a punt, a crucial stop on a day in which the Cardinals twice forced field goals once the 49ers (1-7) got in the red zone. The second time came on a big one-on-one stop by safety Antoine Bethea on a scrambling Beathard to keep it a two-score game.
“It turned out to be huge,” linebacker Josh Bynes said. “Guys defensively, especially the defensive line, they played their tails off today.”
The 49ers, the second-best rushing team in the league, had only 107 yards on the ground and 3.5 yards a carry, and that’s with the Cards’ best run stuffer, defensive tackle Corey Peters, inactive with a bad ankle.
That left it up to Rosen and the offense with a little more than two minutes to play and 73 yards from the end zone.
“We’re about to win this (expletive) game,” Rosen told his teammates.
Fitzgerald was Rosen’s security blanket, grabbing an 11-yard catch on third-and-10 at the outset of the possession, then getting another 20. It was third-and-goal at the San Francisco 9 when Rosen went back to a play the Cardinals ran earlier in the game, a play Rosen acknowledged he didn’t execute well.
The way the defensive backs were playing, Rosen said, he knew what he was going to do the second time.
“Christian can tell you, we knew where the ball was going before the ball was snapped,” Rosen said.
The 49ers did have timeouts and a chance to move into range of a potential field goal, but with seven seconds left, the shotgun snap sailed over the head of 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard, and while Beathard did pick it up to throw an incompletion, the clock had run out.
“Little inconsistent at times, but when we needed it at the end, we showed up,” coach Steve Wilks said.
The Cardinals have two weeks before their next game, a road trip to Kansas City. The offense will likely evolve some more. Rosen noted that, if the Cards can score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, there’s no reason they can’t do it in the other three quarters.
It would translate well on the scoreboard and, from there, the standings.
“That’s the reason you play the game,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s for the wins and losses.”
And maybe to get his son back in the stands.
“I’m still a little disturbed by it,” Fitzgerald said. “But I’ll get over it.”
Images from the Week 8 matchup at State Farm Stadium