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J.J. Nelson's Play Speaks Loudly Against Colts

Cardinals wideout has five catches for 120 yards and a crucial score in win

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Cardinals wide receiver J.J. Nelson hauls in a 45-yard touchdown pass.


INDIANAPOLIS – J.J.Nelson gets teased constantly by his fellow wide receivers for his quiet nature.

He remained true to his introverted personality on Sunday, but his performance spoke volumes against the Colts.

The Cardinals' offense needed a spark after a listless three quarters and Nelson provided it, catching a 45-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to cut a 13-3 deficit to a field goal midway through the fourth.

The Cardinals eventually completed the comeback, stunning Indianapolis for a 16-13 overtime win.

With fellow speedster John Brown sidelined by a quadriceps injury, Nelson finished with five catches for 120 yards, accounting for nearly a third of the team's total offense.

"I don't say much, and they get on me every day about not talking," Nelson said of his position-mates. "I let my playing do the talking for the most part. I've done that since I was little."

Nelson came up with clutch grabs throughout the contest, and for a while was the lone bright spot in a struggling passing game. Others eventually helped out, but if not for Nelson's performance, the Cardinals likely would have gone home winless.

"That's what we always need out of J.J., with or without John," coach Bruce Arians said. 

Nelson said he was still smarting from a missed opportunity a week ago in a loss to the Lions. He dropped a deep bomb in that one, but the 45-yard scoring grab Sunday was an impressive feat of concentration with a defender draped on him.

"I wasn't going to let that happen again this week." Nelson said. "I was pretty upset. … This (week's touchdown) felt great. Great that I was able to uplift the team."

Nelson ran a post to the middle of the field and outraced a pair of Colts to a nicely-placed ball from Palmer. The Cardinals had struggled badly up until that point, but were suddenly right back in the game.

"I look forward to getting better and better with him," Palmer said. "We worked hard at it in the offseason away from the facility. He continuously makes big plays. He can make the easy ones too. He's right where you need him to be, making tough contested catches."

It continues an impressive stretch for Nelson dating back to 2016. He now has a touchdown in each of the first two games of 2017 and nine of his past 11 overall. It was nearly a two-touchdown game by Nelson. In the first half, Palmer scrambled and lofted a ball to the corner of the end zone, which Nelson swooped under and corralled.

The catch was originally called a touchdown, but it was reversed when a replay showed he didn't get his second foot down in bounds. Palmer looked for Nelson often, as his seven targets were second-most on the team. Nelson is in his third year with the club and has made himself a vital piece.

"They expect me to go out there and make plays," Nelson said.

Despite the big game, Nelson's shyness isn't likely to go away any time soon, and neither will the playful ribbing.

"It's Larry (Fitzgerald) for the most part," Nelson said with a smile. "Larry all the time. But, yeah, I love those guys, man. I'm glad I'm here with them."

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