GLENDALE, Ariz. — Days like this have not come around very often for Larry Fitzgerald the last few seasons.
Twelve catches. Ninety-six yards. One touchdown.
Fitz came one reception shy of tying his career high for a game. He knew he was that close.
“I’m very aware all the time of where I’m at,” he said after his team’s 30-10 win over the St. Louis Rams. “No, but the game was out of reach at that point and I never put myself in front of my team. We did what we needed to do; hopefully I can get 13 or 14 next week.”
Given the connection Fitzgerald had with quarterback Carson Palmer Sunday, those numbers don’t seem entirely unattainable.
Fitzgerald was targeted 12 times on the afternoon, a number that was three times as many as the next closest player. Yet, this was less the Cardinals forcing the ball to their No. 1 receiver than it was just finding ample opportunity to get it to him.
“It’s just part of the game plan each week,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “We throw it where they will let us throw it. Carson was spot on it.”
“No, I mean I think that in this offense the coverage dictates where the ball goes and sometimes it’s Larry,” Palmer said. “Last time we played against them it was Andre (Roberts).”
This time it was Fitzgerald, and it worked out very well for the team’s passing game.
Palmer completed 27-of-32 passes for 269 yards and one touchdown on the day, finishing with a completion percentage of a healthy 84 percent.
Some of Fitzgerald’s catches were of the difficult variety, but for the most part he was open and Palmer found him. It’s a simple concept that had gone missing last season.
No doubt having a quarterback capable of posting numbers like that has led to Fitzgerald’s resurgence. On the season, Fitzgerald has caught 67 passes for 774 yards and 10 touchdowns, looking every bit like the elite pass catcher he was not too long ago.
His connection with Palmer is only part of the equation.
“Having the running game hitting like it’s been hitting — I don’t know what we ran for today, but we had nice gashes all day long,” Fitzgerald said. “Whenever you’re going to get that, a lot of teams are going to have to bring that strong safety in the box, and you’re going to get some single-high safety looks.”
With his second quarter touchdown Sunday, Fitzgerald became the ninth player in NFL history to catch at least 10 touchdown passes in five different seasons.
“It’s just another footnote, hopefully, in a career that will continue to ascend,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s my goal, and hopefully we’ll be sitting here in a couple of years and I will be able to do it seven or eight times. That’s fully my focus.
“I’m not the kind of person who sits back and reflects at the time. I have lofty goals.”