The Arizona Cardinals finished with at least 10 wins every year from 2013 to 2015. That’s why their 1-3 start this season was so perplexing.
“We just weren’t playing well,” Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It’s very simple. That’s something we worked very hard to try to correct and we’re still trying to work hard to correct.”
Maybe it’s working. The Cardinals (4-4-1), to their credit, are 3-1-1 over their last five games.
“Things are still in front of us,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re not out of it by any stretch of the imagination, but early on, we just didn’t get off to a great start like we had in years past. That’s disappointing because we have a very talented team that’s capable of great things.”
The Cardinals had a rough two-week stretch in Weeks 7-8. They tied with the Seahawks 6-6 before losing at Carolina 30-20.
Neither game was all that enjoyable.
“It felt like a loss,” Fitzgerald said of the tie. “It felt like a loss just because of the way it happened. I would imagine they felt the same way flying home. You drive down and you have an opportunity to end the game and you don’t punch it in late – you felt like you let a golden opportunity at home slip away. So going home, you know you didn’t lose it, but it dang sure felt like you lost it.”
Doug Gottlieb picked against the Cardinals the following week in Carolina – not because he didn’t think they could beat the Panthers, but because he felt the game against Seattle took so much out of them.
Fitzgerald, however, doesn’t believe that’s why Arizona fell short in Carolina.
“It wasn’t anything about (the Seattle) game,” he said. “We just didn’t play well against Carolina. But it was a physical game – one of the more physical games I’ve played in in my career. Every time you play them, that’s the kind of game you have to play. They’re physical and you have to match that intensity. But we’re not making excuses. Those guys had to come back the next week and play and they were able to find a way to win, and we have to be able to do the same thing.”
Fitzgerald, one of the best wide receivers of his generation, continues to dominate the league at 33. His 68 catches are one back of Antonio Brown for the league lead. He also has 686 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Fitzgerald has battled knee and ankle pain in recent weeks but shows no signs of slowing down. That’s due, in part, to his mother, Carol, who died of breast cancer in 2003.
Fitzgerald thinks about his mother a lot.
“There’s a lot of moments, but in particular when I’m going through some adversity,” he said. “I remember vividly coming home and seeing her after chemotherapy vomiting in the toilet, grabbing her hair to make sure she doesn’t get anything in her hair. She gets up and cleans herself up and says, ‘You guys got practice tonight? Let’s go. Let’s get ready.’ There was never a time where she was like, ‘Woe is me’ or ‘I’m too sick to do this for you guys.’ It was always about just continuing to push through. So when I’m having a weak moment, those are the things that I always remember – just her toughness and her willingness to always do for others. I try to emulate her in those ways.”