It’s becoming routine for Larry Fitzgerald.
Take the field against Seattle and the Arizona receiver turns in an All-World performance. On Sunday he torched Seattle’s secondary for season-highs of 13 catches and 100 yards and scored a first-quarter touchdown in the Cardinals’ 27-3 win at Qwest Field.
Fitzgerald has a history of making life difficult for the Seahawks. In his past five games facing Seattle, he has blistered the Seahawks for 41 receptions, 547 yards and four touchdowns. That’s right: he’s averaging more than 100 yards a game. In 2008, his second- and third-highest single-game receiving yardage totals (151 and 130) came against Seattle.
So, what gives?
“What we have to do is make the plays,” Seahawks cornerback Kelly Jennings said. “We may be in good position, but we still need to find a way to get the ball out. I don’t think we did a good job of that. We were close, but that doesn’t count.”
There’s the rub.
Even in perfect position, Seattle’s secondary is at a disadvantage. Because Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner is among the NFL’s most accurate passers and Fitzgerald is taller than every player in the Seahawks secondary and has a significant height advantage over most – he dwarfs 5-foot-9 cornerback Josh Wilson – the Seahawks are in a hole before the ball is snapped. It’s no wonder Fitzgerald terrorizes the Seahawks.
“The guy’s remarkable,” Seattle coach Jim Mora said. “You can be draped all over him and he still makes the catch. He’s a big man with long arms. In my opinion, if he’s not the best receiver in the NFL, he’s one of the top two or three. He just amazes me, the things he can do with the ball. That first catch he made, where he was on the ground, I said, ‘How do you do that?’ He’s special.”
‘Pooch’ kick nets results
Mora said his team prepared for it, including holding a film session on the possibility Arizona might “pooch” kick.
However, when Arizona kicker Neil Rackers executed the play on the Cardinals’ second kickoff of the game, sending a high arching kick toward the right side of Seattle’s kick return unit, no Seattle player responded to the live ball.
And the result was Arizona cornerback Ryan Tolar hustling down field to come up with the loose ball. Arizona scored three plays later on a 2-yard dive up the middle by Tim Hightower.
Ryan perfect passer
Punter Jon Ryan is now 2-for-2 in fake-punt passes. The Cardinals may not have scouted Ryan’s last pass, back when he was with the Green Bay Packers.
Sunday, he accounted for the Seahawks’ best offensive play of the day, passing to tight end John Carlson for a 42-yard gain.
“It’s just something that coach Bruce (DeHaven) drew up during the week and we had the opportunity to use it,” Ryan said. “Coach Bruce saw something in the film and he drew up a good play and they called it at the right time and we executed it well.”
Ryan was a prep lacrosse, hockey and track star in Saskatchewan. Playing receiver in college, he caught a 109-yard touchdown pass on the 110-yard field used in Canada.
“We anticipated them bringing eight-man rushes on the punt,” Carlson said. “When they bring eight guys like that, they’re susceptible to fake punts.”
Along with Mora announcing linebacker Lofa Tatupu was out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered late in the first half, defensive end Patrick Kerney and cornerback Kelly Jennings also had injuries that forced them to leave the game. Kerney aggravated a groin injury at the end of the first half, tried to go in the second half but was unable to get back on the field. Jennings suffered injuries to his hip and right ribs after absorbing a hit from teammate Jordan Babineaux on Steve Breaston’s 16-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, and had to be helped off the field. Both will be evaluated further today.
Staff reporters Dave Boling and Eric Williams contributed to this report.
Doug Pacey: 253-597-8271