Back in October, we already knew he was in the midst of something special and tried to give everybody a heads-up when we ran the column, The Rebirth of Larry Fitzgerald. Last night, he added to his amazing legacy and propelled the Arizona Cardinals into next weekend's NFC Championship game with his eight catches, 176 receiving yards and overtime heroics.
After Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers sent the game into an extra period with his miraculous Hail Mary pass to unheralded receiver Jeff Janis on the final play of the fourth quarter, Fitzgerald made certain that Rodgers never got another chance to work his magic.
After winning the coin toss, Fitzgerald hauled in a five-yard pass from Cardinals QB Carson Palmer and proceeded to deliver the signature moment of this NFL season thus far.
Inexplicably uncovered on the play, the future Hall of Famer dashed through a plethora of Packer defenders, running through six tackles before being taken down at the 5 yard line after a 75-yard gain. He then took a shovel pass and darted into the end zone, capping a fantastic 26-20 win for Arizona.
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
And there was no more deserving hero than Fitzgerald, who has been the soul of the franchise for years, through the lean times, the heartbreaking injury to Carson Palmer last year that derailed the franchise's championship hopes and the devastating loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
Fitzgerald has long been lauded, not only for his professional excellence but for his moral compass and high character. He showed why, once again, when he put things in perspective during a post-game, on-field interview by sending a shout-out to ESPN's Chris Mortenson, who just revealed that he is battling throat cancer.
"Mort, I want to tell you, man,” Fitzgerald said amid the euphoria of the Cardinals' game-winning celebration, still out of breath from his 75-yard reception. “We’re thinking about you, and fight, baby. Love you, Mort."
The Cardinals will fight on next week against the Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, who beat the defending conference champion Seattle Seahawks 31-24 this afternoon, to see who will represent the NFC in Super Bowl 50.
With 109 catches thus far, Fitzgerald has had the highest total receptions in a season for his entire illustrious career.
Take a moment to cherish he who is as a player, and what he stands for as a man. Larry Fitzgerald is reaching the last stage of his career. But after what he showed last night, it still miraculously feels like he's just getting started.