Fitzgerald, Brown outflank Eagles
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Cardinals may have found a complement to Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald in rookie John Brown, a compact wideout with breakaway, take-the-game-away speed.
The two became the first pair of Cardinals with 100 yards receiving in the same game since the last best complement to Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, joined Fitzgerald with 337 combined yards against Seattle on Nov. 16, 2008.
Both Brown and Fitzgerald had touchdown receptions Sunday, and Brown’s 75-yarder with 1:21 remaining was the game-winner in the 24-20 victory over Philadelphia. Fitzgerald set a career-record with his 80-yard score on the third play of the third quarter.
Brown’s game was made more special because his mother other family members were present, the first time they had seen him play in the NFL.
"I’m so happy for John," said Fitzgerald, who had seven catches for 160 yards. "That was really special. To put on a performance like that, it was remarkable."
Brown had 119 yards on five catches, and the touchdown came on a third-and-five play the Eagles might have expected to be a shorter route.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians believes in the big play overall, and when quarterback Carson Palmer saw a safety covering Brown, he gave a little signal to Brown to change his route. Brown made a double move, faking an in route and going up field. He caught the ball in stride, over his shoulder, and got into the end zone just ahead of Cary Williams’ tackle.
"Carson is always looking for the big play, so I knew I had to turn it on," said Brown, who had the fastest 20-yard split time at the NFL combine last spring. "I was kind of thinking that he overthrew me a little bit, but it ended up being a great pass by Carson. It was right in the basket.
"I live for games like this."
Overthrow Brown? Palmer is not sure that is possible.
"I’ve seen that gear he has," Palmer said. "He puts it in fourth, fifth and into sixth gear to go get it. That’s something he does all the time in practice, and he’s done it a couple of times in big games."
Palmer and Brown, who has four touchdowns this season, also combined on 25-yard reception to beat a blitz early in the second quarter. Brown caught that pass directly over his head, too.
"People compare him to Marvin Harrison," linebacker Sam Acho said. "I loved watching Marvin Harrison play. But I think he (Brown) is better."
Fitzgerald’s 89th career touchdown pass broke a tie with Don Maynard and moved him into 11th place in NFL history. And he has a reception in 156 straight games, the longest active streak in the league.
Ted Ginn Jr.’s block sprung Fitzgerald after his short catch, and Fitzgerald credited team president Mike Bidwill for allowing no Eagles defender to catch him.
"Well, Michael blessed us this year with a new Jumbotron. It’s a lot bigger. It’s HD, so I utilized that. It was nice and clear, so I was able to see where they guys were behind me and not look back," Fitzgerald said.
All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson missed the second half with concussion symptoms after bearing the brunt of hit by teammate Deone Bucannon on Philadelphia receiver Jeremy Maclin, who was sandwiched between Bucannon and Peterson on a short pass over the middle in the second quarter.
Bucannon’s helmet came off when he hit Maclin, who was propelled into Peterson. Both Maclin and Peterson left to undergo the NFL concussion protocol, and Maclin also had a bloody ear.
While Maclin returned, Peterson did not, leaving his status uncertain for next week’s game in Dallas.
— Patrick Peterson (@RealPeterson21) October 27, 2014
"It’s scary when you see anybody down," veteran Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson said. "We play a violent sport and Deone, he really didn’t care, he was coming to knock him (Maclin) out. He did a great job. That’s how you have to play. You have to play fast. You have to play violent. Sometimes things like that happen. We are happy both of those guys are OK."
Bucannon said he never saw Peterson on the play.
"I was just zoning the middle, kind of spying," Bucannon said. "I was just following the ball. He threw that slant and I just saw an Eagle player. I was trying to hit him as hard as I can. I didn’t realize Pat was back there. I would never want to hurt anybody on purpose in my life. I felt really bad. I’m glad it wasn’t anything more serious."
The Cardinals believe Peterson can make a speedy recovery.
"Big-time game. Patrick won’t miss that game, I’m pretty sure. He’ll pass the concussion test," Johnson said.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie saw a formation he recognized when the Eagles moved to the Cardinals’ 25-yard line midway through the second quarter, and his awareness led to his first interception of the season. He got his second midway through the fourth quarter.
"When they showed Maclin in the slot, we knew exactly what they were going to try to do," Cromartie said of his first Cardinals interception, the 29th of his nine-year career.
Cromartie was assigned to cover the tight end on his first pick, but when saw the ball in the air, he ran to the spot and stepped in front Josh Huff, who otherwise would have scored. Cromartie ran side-to-side in the end and worked past possible tacklers near the goal line before his 38-yard line.
"I’ve always been told I had the green light," Cromartie said about his return, smiling. "I was just trying to make a play."
With those two interceptions and a Bucannon fumbled recovery, the Cardinals have nine more takeaways than they have turnovers this season.
Bucannon recovered a fumble to halt an Eagles’ drive at the 2-yard line, and Cromartie’s first interception was at the goal line.
Philadelphia had 110 yards rushing, the first team to crack 100 against the Cardinals this season. But when they needed 2 yards near the goal line on a fourth-quarter drive, Calais Campbell and safety Tony Johnson helped turn the Eagles back, forcing them to settle for 20-yard field goal a 20-17 lead with 1:57 left.
"I guess you can’t call it a goal line stand because they ended up kicking a field goal, but that was the difference in the game," Campbell said.
Campbell missed the previous two games after suffering a knee injury on an illegal chop block at Denver, but he started and played most of the way Sunday. He cleared his final hurdle in practice Thursday.
"I went as hard as I could go I could get confidence in it, so I wouldn’t have to be worried. I could play full-speed," Campbell said.
Chandler Catanzaro’s 28-yard field goal with 9:01 remaining made him 16 for 16 on field goal attempts, a league record to begin a career. St. Louis’ Greg Zuerlein made 15 in a row in 2012, the record Catanzaro tied last week against Oakland. … With Cromartie’s two interceptions and a fumble recovery by Bucannon, the Cardinals offset a lost fumble and finished plus-two in the takeaway ratio. They nine more takeaways than turnovers this season, a principle reason they have been able to navigate through close games. Bucannon’s recovery halted an Eagles’ drive at his own 2-yard line. … With the rule in place that mandates a receiver must land with two feet inbounds even if a defender knocks him out of bounds, Rashad Johnson said he had one job on the final play of the game while covering Jordan Mathews. "I saw the ball up and I was thinking to go for the pick," Johnson said, "but I saw how close I was to the sideline. ‘Get him out of bounds.’ As long as he doesn’t catch it, we get the win. That was all that was going through my mind, just get him out of bounds. I hit him with all I had, and he was only able to get a foot in."