COMMENTARY | Larry Fitzgerald is the most productive wide receiver in Arizona Cardinals history. Everyone knows that. This piece is not intended to challenge facts or suggest anything crazy. That would be trolling, and that is not what we do.
We are here today simply to highlight five of the best moments from Fitzgerald's illustrious career. A reminiscing, if you will.
Only five, you ask? Seems awfully difficult to do, narrowing 764 receptions, 10,413 yards and 77 touchdowns over nine NFL seasons to just five plays.
That is precisely why I want you to post your favorite highlight of Fitzgerald in the comments section after you are done reading this. Share with us your best memory of No. 11's on-field magic and tell us why it holds a special place in your heart.
If your favorite is on the list already, tell us why you believe it is his best. Let's have fun with this.
Quick note: After researching every touchdown he scored with the help of ProFootballReference.com, I found that since he came into the league in 2004, only LaDainian Tomlinson (27) scored more touchdowns in the fourth quarter of regular-season games than did Fitzgerald (26). Those 26 fourth-quarter receiving touchdowns are six more than the next closest receiver--San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates--over that time.
Not that Fitzgerald needed a flashy entrance to the playoffs in order for people to know who he was, but this play happened to be his first career playoff reception.
What an entrance.
On Arizona's second possession of the 2008 Wild Card game against the Atlanta Falcons, Kurt Warner took the snap from under center and handed off to running back Edgerrin James. James, in his tenth NFL season, took a few steps into the hole, then turned and pitched the ball back to an eager Warner.
Warner let it fly into double coverage. Fitzgerald leaped, did a 180-degree turn in midair, and came down with it between cornerback Chris Houston and safety Lawyer Milloy.
The end result was similar to that of the above play. How the ball got there was a different story altogether.
Pass protection broke down on this play, causing new quarterback Kevin Kolb to backpedal and throw off his back foot into double coverage.
Normally, this kind of quarterback play would give an NFL head coach reason to become violent with his signal-caller, but Kolb got away with it thanks to Fitz, who found the ball at its height and hauled in receiving touchdown No. 67 in between the Seattle Seahawks' Brandon Browner and Earl Thomas.
The catch broke a tie with (should-be Hall of Fame) receiver Roy Green. Green, who played in Cardinal Red from 1979 to 90, ended his career as the franchise's all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns--all of which are now owned by Fitzgerald.
Green was one of the leading receivers of the 1980s, finishing ninth with 468 receptions, fifth with 7,684 yards, and fourth with 62 touchdowns.
As just mentioned, Fitzgerald owns every Cardinals record once held by Green. This catch was rather unimportant in terms of the big picture for Arizona. It was not a touchdown, and the team lost to the New York Giants (this was the Victor Cruz fumble/no fumble game).
But for Fitzgerald and Cardinals fans everywhere, it provided another point of pride--and a wicked awesome highlight, to boot.
Fitz leaped to snatch a pass away from safety Dion Grant, who was helping Cory Webster in zone coverage (oh, look, another throw into double coverage). The ball was nearly in Grant's lap when Fitzgerald took it from him and simultaneously shoved him away with his off hand as they fell to the University of Phoenix turf.
Forty-eight yards and into the record books once again.
There are no stats kept for one-handed catches at any level of football, so it is hard to say just how many times he has done this. Of all the five-finger stabs I have seen him make, however, this one is still my favorite.
In this very offensive-minded era of the NFL, it is understandable why Fitzgerald wasn't called for offensive pass interference after he shoved Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson to the ground before making this catch.
Should it have been called? Yes, I believe so. Warner had just released the ball as Fitz bullied Woodson. But if it were, the greatness that followed would not have counted, thus it would not be on this list.
We are all glad it wasn't called.
Warner had pressure in his face at the time he released the ball, which is probably why Fitzgerald was able to get there before it fell incomplete. He dived as it sailed over his head, hanging on by the tips of the fingers on his right hand and cradling it to his chest as he hit the ground in the back of the end zone.
Does this play really need a description? You all know what happened on this glorious play. Watch it and try to not get chills as you hear Cardinals' radio announcer Dave Pasch's call.
…If only Santonio Holmes' right foot hadn't grazed the yellow-painted grass.
Shaun Church has covered the Arizona Cardinals for more than three years on various online publications and considers himself a life-long fan. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, Football Nation, The Boston Metro, ESPN.com and more.
Questions or comments? E-mail Shaun at email@example.com
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