People don’t want to criticize Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald too much because he is Larry Fitzgerald. A lot of fans want to jump on quarterback Carson Palmer as the main reason for the 32-20 loss on Sunday to the San Francisco 49′ers. I disagree wholeheartedly.
This isn’t a piece on defending Palmer but rather a commentary on not being so quick to judge the actual reasons for losing a game. Yes, Palmer threw two early picks and he looked real bad on both. I was pulling my hair out and saying here we go again. I know everyone else was doing the same. However, the impact of those two interceptions were lessened by the great job the defense did in holding the Niners to just six points on those two turnovers. Six. After that point in the first quarter, Palmer threw no more interceptions and threw two touchdowns and his passing led to a third touchdown.
I know it is easy to sit here for fans and harp on Palmer. However I would offer that Fitzgerald’s fumble late in the third quarter was much bigger. The Cards were on the 11th play of a 50-yard drive and headed toward the end zone. The Cards were moving the ball well at the time. It was 2nd and 10 and Fitz’s catch and run went for eight before he went to the ground and fumbled. It would have left the Cards a 3rd and 2. His fumble was bigger because it happened with just 1:07 left in the third quarter. If the Cards score a touchdown on that drive, they go up 27-22. Even a field goal puts them up 23-22, probably early in the fourth quarter given the time left on the clock.
After the fumble, the Niners went on a 18-lay 83-yard 9 minute and 32 second drive. It was a killer. It left the Cards defense on its heels. They couldn’t stop the Niners, who got six first downs on the drive. They scored the touchdown with 6:35 left but left the Cards two scores behind. It was essentially a 14-point swing. Game over.
So, I get all the comments on all the threads I’m reading this afternoon blaming Palmer for the loss but there was plenty of blame to go around. I love Fitz but he can’t be immune from criticism just because he is Larry Fitzgerald. I love having him in a Cards uniform but his fumble was just a game killer.