Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald races upfield for his second touchdown against the 49ers Sunday.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald didn't see this coming. Not from himself and not from the offense as a whole.
For the second straight week, the Cardinals had 40 points on the board by the end of the third quarter on their way to an easy 47-7 win over the 49ers on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium. Once again, it was Fitzgerald – the formerly elite wideout some thought was
over the hill – leading the charge.
"I didn't know," Fitzgerald said. "If I did, I might have gone to Vegas to put something on the line."
Fitzgerald's dip into the fountain of youth continued against San Francisco, as he had nine catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns. In three games this year, he's up to 23 catches for 333 yards and five scores.
After 784 yards receiving at age 31 last season, there were questions about where Fitzgerald's career was headed, and with a tricky contract, whether it would still be with the Cardinals. There are no such worries anymore, as he has become the headliner among a variety of weapons at quarterback Carson Palmer's disposal.
On Sunday, Fitzgerald set a career-high for receiving yards in a quarter with 90 in the first and was targeted 11 times in all. The concerns of the past two years have dissipated quickly. Now it seems that the issue was Palmer missing 10 games in 2014, not Fitzgerald losing a step with age.
"Larry's still being Old Man Larry," cornerback Patrick Peterson said.
Fitzgerald's first touchdown came on a four-yard pass to the back of the end zone in the third quarter. His second on an eight-yard wide receiver screen to wrap up the scoring in the fourth. After the game, Palmer raved about Fitzgerald's ability to stay in and take a hit during his first score.
"He's covered in the end zone and gets absolutely lit up and knows it's coming," Palmer said. "I didn't see the guy on the backside, but he did. To make that catch and come down with that ball in bounds and hold onto it, he's one of only a handful of guys who can do that."
CHRIS JOHNSON FILLS IN ADMIRABLY FOR ELLINGTON
The Cardinals were without starting running back Andre Ellington (knee sprain) for the second straight game, but once again had no
trouble moving the ball on the ground. Chris Johnson was the focal point, rushing 22 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a 40-yard catch in which he ran down the right sideline and then made a nifty cut to get deep into San Francisco territory.
Johnson may not be the same dynamic rusher that surpassed 2,000 yards in a season early in his career, but proved he still has something left in the tank.
"I turned 30 this week, so it feels good," he said.
Johnson was signed for the veteran's minimum after training camp began after being unable to latch on with a team during the free agency period.
"I don't know how he was on the street," Arians said.
IUPATI, ELLINGTON SIT BUT COULD PLAY NEXT WEEK
There was a lot of optimism postgame that guard Mike Iupati (knee) and Ellington will be able to return for next Sunday's game against the Rams. Iupati practiced on a limited basis throughout the week and was listed as questionable, and Arians said he was "real close" to making his Cardinals debut against his former team.
"He just came to me and said that he wasn't quite ready," Arians said. "He didn't feel like he had enough power in that leg. You always go with the player in that situation and I trust the guys that are out there."
Arians said he hopes to have Ellington at full-strength for Week 4. There were no serious injuries coming out of the game. Linebacker Alex Okafor dislocated his finger trying to sack 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick early in the second half and left the game, but later returned.
MASSIE RETURNS TO STARTING LINEUP
Arians re-inserted Bobby Massie into the lineup at right tackle following his season-opening two-game suspension. Arians said the decision came down to Massie, last year's starter for all 16 games, being a better pass protector than Earl Watford, who started the first two games.
Palmer was sacked for the first two times this season and Massie was beaten a few times, but overall the line held up well.
"I thought the pocket was phenomenal," Palmer said.