The Play: Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald give the Cardinals OT win
GLENDALE, Ariz. — You’d have to say the Arizona Cardinals have worked hard for their victories in 2017.
In Week 2, they erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and went on to win 16-13 in overtime over the Indianapolis Colts.
Two weeks later, it looked different, but the result was the same — an 18-15 win over the San Francisco 49ers that took nearly a full 70 minutes to complete.
After Arizona’s Robbie Gould and San Francisco’s Robbie Gould traded field goals throughout regulation, the 49ers (0-4) won the coin flip and took the ball. And they kept the ball. Aided by crucial Cardinal penalties, Brian Hoyer took the Niners to the Cardinals’ 5-yard line where a 17-play drive stalled. Gould booted his fifth field goal of the game, giving San Francisco a 15-12 lead with only 2:24 remaining in overtime. A field goal wouldn’t do it for Arizona — the Cardinals needed a touchdown to win.
And they’d get it.
Carson Palmer took what the defense gave him, completing his first four passes to Andre Ellington and Jaron Brown to give the Cardinals life at the San Francisco 25-yard line.
A holding call on guard Evan Boehm acted as a speed bump, but Palmer connected with Ellington again on an 8-yard completion that gave Arizona a 2nd-and-2 at the 49ers’ 19.
The game would end on the next play.
As Palmer dropped to pass, he’d get a healthy rush from his left side by Elvis Dumervil, who had two of San Francisco’s six sacks on the day. Tackle John Wetzel did a nice job of moving his feet, however, and forced Dumervil behind Palmer, allowing the quarterback to step up into a clean pocket. He found his favorite target, Larry Fitzgerald, streaking to the end zone with coverage provided by Rashard Robinson. The veteran got a step on Robinson, and Palmer delivered a strike before safety Jimmie Ward could provide help over the top.
FINAL: Larry Legend to the rescue! @AZCardinals win in OT! #SFvsAZ#BeRedSeeRed pic.twitter.com/E0oZM1NtQE
— NFL (@NFL) October 2, 2017
Palmer noticed something a little different at the line of scrimmage on the game’s final play.
“They got a little out of sorts on that last play at the end. There was some miscommunication, and they weren’t doing what they were doing earlier,” Palmer said. “There were a couple guys running back-and-forth trying to switch sides and (Fitzgerald) just got a free release and was one-on-one up the seam.”
Palmer liked what he saw pre-snap, and thought the game could end on the play.
“I was hoping,” he said. “Two guys switching sides and the safety was out of place, and obviously (Fitzgerald) made a great play.”
Fitzgerald saw something similar.
“I saw single-high, and when I started running vertical, I saw the nickel back,” he said. “He didn’t really drop too much, so I knew it was zone, so I knew I was a viable option on that play call.
“I didn’t see all the rotation and stuff. I was just watching my safety and the corner. They were playing a two-to-one coverage on me and I just bent it in there and Carson gave me a good ball to make a play on.”
Fitzgerald only had three catches for 13 yards in the game prior to the touchdown, but when the game’s on the line, he wants the ball coming his way.
“Never surprised,” head coach Bruce Arians said. “In critical moments, he’s like ‘give me the ball.’ And I say, ‘I’m trying, brother. I’m trying.'”
This time the try paid off.