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Patrick Peterson Tough To Beat Since Julio Jones Eruption

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) waits to cover Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones before a snap in the teams' 2016 meeting.
Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) waits to cover Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones before a snap in the teams' 2016 meeting.

That day in Atlanta in 2014, Julio Jones had 10 catches for 189 yards, and while they all weren’t while Patrick Peterson had Jones in coverage, the vast majority were.

“That was the worst game I ever played,” Peterson said. “We came into the locker room, and we lost by (double digits), and I told the guys, ‘I let you down.’ Because if he didn’t have that big game, if he didn’t go off the way he went off, I believe the game would have been much more manageable for us to win.

“From that point on, I was like, ‘Man, something has got to change.’ I told myself that can’t happen again.”

As the Cardinals prepare to go back to Atlanta this weekend, Peterson has stayed true to his self-promise.

According to Pro Football Focus, Peterson has not allowed 80 or more yards in 68 straight games, including the playoffs. That streak started the week after the Julio bomb. It’s also the longest such streak in the 13 years PFF has broken down such data.

It also includes the last time Peterson covered Jones, when the Cardinals visited the Falcons in 2016 and Jones was held to four catches for 35 yards. In fact, Peterson has had more games in which he has allowed nine receiving yards or less (20) in that time frame than he has allowed 40 yards or more (17). That includes 11 instances in which he has allowed zero yards (or negative-one yard, in one game).

Teams don’t throw at Peterson often, especially the last couple of years, and that has helped his streak.

“I don’t get many opportunities,” Peterson said. “It’s not hard to keep that number low.”

That won’t be a problem Sunday. Jones sat out practice Wednesday with foot and calf injuries, and missed Thursday with an illness, but he is expected to play Sunday.

If the Cardinals had a stronger lineup at the other cornerback – they have started three different players there this season and it will again be a priority going into the offseason – Peterson might have been used a little differently.

“For the most part, Pat has gone to the other team’s star receiver,” Holcomb said. “Naturally, when we got here, Pat played on the left side all spring (in the offseason) because we wanted him to get used to playing all the different coverage concepts.”

But the idea of doing anything but shadowing the other team’s No. 1 guy brings a raised eyebrow and “next question,” from Peterson.

“I put it in my notes Tuesday: ‘The best versus the best,’ ” Peterson said. “These are the matchups I live and thrive on. This is why you play the game, why Hall of Famers are Hall of Famers, why greats are greats. Because they look forward to this type of matchup.”

NO COACHING FOR FITZGERALD

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was again deflecting talk about his potential retirement Thursday, saying he will make a decision after the season.

He did make it clear he will not be going into coaching.

“Heck no,” Fitzgerald said. “Never. Never.”

It wouldn’t be the pay, which would be significantly lower than his current salary. It would be the hours coaches have to put in. Fitzgerald said he wants to be able to be with his family and take part in various business opportunities.

“I get bored easily,” he said.

JOHNSON RETURNS TO PRACTICE

Running back David Johnson (quadriceps) returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday. Wilks said Wednesday he expects Johnson to play against the Falcons. Safety Budda Baker (knee) also returned to practice limited. Wide receiver Chad Williams (hamstring) remained sidelined.

Also limited were guard Oday Aboushi (knee) and linebacker Deone Bucannon (chest).

For the Falcons, Jones (foot/calf/illness), tight end Austin Hooper (knee/ankle) and defensive tackle Terrell McClain (toe) remained sidelined, with Falcons coach Dan Quinn ruling McClain out for Sunday. Linebacker Deion Jones (foot), defensive tackle Grady Jerrett (groin/shoulder) and tight end Logan Paulsen (knee/ankle) were limited.

Images from past matchups between the Cardinals and this week's opponent, the Atlanta Falcons

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