Rapid Reactions: Josh Rosen gets first comeback victory for Cardinals
Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen delivered the first comeback victory of his career as he led Arizona to an 18-15 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald scored the 18th touchdown of his career against the Niners, tying his best against any individual opponent, while rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk caught the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter and Fitzgerald converted the two-point conversion.
Arizona overcame a 15-3 deficit to win. How much does the comeback cancel out the early struggles long-term?
Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station staff.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo
I’ll admit it. There was a point in the second half when the Cardinals were down 15-3 and the offense looked so inept that I questioned whether they should consider taking out Josh Rosen for Mike Glennon. At that point, the Cardinals offense was non-existent as the team trailed by 12 with a quarter left to play.
Now, I wasn’t saying do it. I was questioning whether they should. Part of that thought process was some of those hard hits Rosen had taken as well. But the Cardinals stuck with the rookie and he delivered in a big way.
Forget about the majority of the game. The touchdown drive that covered 75 yards and culminated with a 13-yard scoring strike to Larry Fitzgerald was a good drive highlighted by a 37-yard pass to Fitz and a nice third-and-4 completion to tight end Jermaine Gresham. After a sensational play by Budda Baker to sack the Niners quarterback and force a punt, Arizona got the ball back with 2:16 remaining and Rosen went to work.
His completions: Twice to Fitzgerald, once to Ricky Seals-Jones, once to Chad Williams on a third-and-two, a negative pass play to David Johnson and then a pair of passes to Kirk, including the game winner in the back of the end zone. He also hit Fitzgerald for a two-point conversion. Great drive.
Rosen showed poise. He showed leadership. He drove his team down the field with just over two minutes left for the winning score. Hopefully that is the first of many.
In his sixth game – Rosen has his signature moment. And it is one we all will not soon forget.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta
It’s impossible for me not to have two undeniable feelings after this game. One, a sense of relief for the struggling Cardinals. They actually showed signs of life in the final 15 minutes of the game, got a winning drive from a rookie quarterback and ushered in the Byron Leftwich OC era with a win. The other feeling I have is pity for the San Francisco 49ers. I know they’re injured, and one of those injuries — center Weston Richburg — may have cost them the game, as Erik Magnuson’s errant shotgun snap got by C.J. Beathard and clinched the game for the Cardinals on the final play.
As far as the Cardinals’ offense goes, I did think it looked different Sunday under Leftwich, but almost equally as inept through the first three quarters. There was a semblance of a screen game, which had been absent, and the Cardinals used some draw plays and a touch of misdirection too.
The biggest thing to be excited about is Josh Rosen’s fourth-quarter performance. The rookie completed 12-of-18 passes for 150 yards in the final frame, while directing two touchdown drives of 73 yards or more. The effects of that accomplishment might not arise this season, but they should sometime in the future.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo
Josh Rosen had a moment to remember. So did Christian Kirk. And Fitz. And Steve Wilks. Just about every Cardinals fan here at State Farm Stadium had it too.
Whether it turns into THE moment to remember … will only be answered through the course of time. For now, it doesn’t matter. Everybody affiliated with this organization either through employment or fandom needed a reason to believe. If just temporarily, a reason.
Josh Rosen delivered that reason with 39 seconds left on the clock.
On that final drive he was 7-fo-12 for 78 yards and the touchdown. In the fourth quarter he was 12-18 for 150 yards, two TD and a passer rating of 129.4. The Cardinals, who had averaged 221 yards per game, amassed 186 in the fourth quarter alone. In that time, the convergence of a young QB, a brand new offensive coordinator and a team starved for a win all met in the back of the north end zone.
Punctuated by a great catch by Kirk and hellacious spike filled with released tension and joy by Larry Fitzgerald they all had a moment.
Larry added a solemn and classy moment afterwards expressing his condolences for the tragedy in Pittsburgh.
Yes, it was “just” the 49ers. And no, I have not forgotten about how difficult the first three quarters of this game were to watch. The sacks. A busted coverage by the suddenly controversial starting cornerback. An organization that had an awful ten days between games. A coaching staff under siege. It’s all still there.
That moment was a perfect pill to numb the pain. The problems are still there. But for now, I can’t feel a darn thing.
Luke Lapinski, co-host of The Rundown and reporter
Well, it definitely wasn’t pretty. The first three quarters were borderline unwatchable, unless you have a strong moral stance against touchdowns, but a win’s a win. And hearing Steve Wilks and Josh Rosen talk after the game served as a reminder of just how important it was for this group to have something go their way right now.
Especially at home. For as uneventful as the first three quarters were, the fourth quarter was pretty riveting. We got to see Larry Fitzgerald make big plays and show an outburst of emotion in the end zone, Christian Kirk catch the deciding touchdown and — most importantly — Josh Rosen lead a game-winning drive in the closing seconds. Cardinal fans haven’t had much to cheer about this season, but the conclusion today couldn’t have been scripted better.
Rosen’s performance at the end of the game is the kind of stuff that can hopefully carry over beyond this year, too. When the 2019 season begins, the fact that the Cards pushed their record to 2-6 today instead of 1-7 won’t mean much. But the experience Rosen just got could mean everything. For a game that felt lifeless at times in the second and third quarters, State Farm Stadium was electric in the final fifteen minutes. And the guy pegged to be the future of the franchise was at the center of it all.
That can only be a good thing.
Jordan Byrd, host of Arizona Sports Saturday and producer of Burns & Gambo
This should feel like a signature win for the Cardinals and Steve Wilks, but instead, it left me with a lot to still be concerned about.
Josh Rosen was able to orchestrate his first fourth-quarter comeback in pretty impressive fashion. The Cardinals offense was stagnant again even under new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, but Rosen looked like a veteran the way he marched the Cardinals down the field.
Larry Fitzgerald finally became more involved under Leftwich after being M.I.A. for the last few weeks and David Johnson had his moments even though it wasn’t the break out game everyone is hoping for. As a whole, the offense looked marginally better than the one under Mike McCoy and would have still been a huge reason if they had lost the game.
The Cardinals were on the brink of losing this one to the 49ers, and the fact that they didn’t is a sliver of hope. But let’s not fool ourselves, the Niners are not a good team and Sunday’s overall performance by the Cardinals would have resulted in a loss if they had been playing nearly any other team.