Converting 4th with “out of it” Fitz

Posted by Darren Urban on December 30, 2010 – 9:24 am

I knew Fitz didn’t look right.

As I noted late Saturday night (Sunday morning) while writing my “aftermath” and watching the tape of the just completed Cards-Cowboys game, it looked like Larry Fitzgerald had taken a head shot (maybe helmet-to-helmet) on the first down play of that last drive. Originally, I thought Fitz had made a catch, but he dropped it, and the video showed him shaking his head and blinking his eyes after the hit. Turns out, Fitz indeed felt it.

“I don’t remember much from the end of the game, to be honest with you,” Fitzgerald said. “I took a shot and I was a little bit out of it.”

(Side comment in today’s concussion-concerned NFL: Yikes.)

Fitz never came out  of the game. I’m guessing he never said anything. A couple plays later, rookie Andre Roberts was the one telling Fitz where to go on fourth-and-15, one of the most important plays of the Cardinals’ season.

“I knew I had to run up the seam and I saw the ball and I just tried to make a play,” Fitzgerald said, breaking into a chuckle. “That’s pretty much all I remember, honestly.”

Quarterback John Skelton just remembered the fourth-down play as “do or die.” “It’s really your last chance … but we had a good play dialed up. Larry found a soft spot (in the zone coverage) and I think that one completion got the ball rolling for the rest of the drive.”

Indeed, the Cards moved the ball every play after that (save for two spikes to stop the clock). After the Cowboys had clamped down the first three plays, Skelton hit Fitz, scrambled for five yards, tossed a six-yard completion to Tim Hightower and after a spike, maybe made the most impressive throw of the drive, a laser off his back foot on the move under pressure to fellow rookie Max Komar for 19 yards.

But it started with fourth down.

“We shouldn’t have gotten to fourth-and-15,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “That’s the first thing.

“It’s a tough situation, just about as tough a situation as you can be in. Having the lead the whole game, losing it, and then all of a sudden you’re at fourth-and-15 and you know if you don’t convert the game is over. To be able to move up in the pocket, make the throw, put it where he had to put it … it’s a good sign.”

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28 Responses to “Converting 4th with “out of it” Fitz”

  1. By Big Red on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Just proud how they never gave up, on the last drive. More of that to come next year. What a way to beat the cowgirls, just love to see all those cowgirl fans faces after the game. Thanks Cardinals for a great present on christmas.

  2. By Kyle on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Cowboy fans are the absolute WORST and WEIRDEST I’ve seen in our stadium. Security was called to the sections on either side of us repeatedly throughout the game, and at game’s end, one Cowboys fan in the row in front of us took off his jersey and threw it under his seat, and another sat in his seat with his head in his hands and sobbed like a baby (these were both grown men).

  3. By ross on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Fitz is the man. Scary stuff though.

  4. By Rick R. on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, your description of the last drive made me think of something, do “spikes” count as incomplete passes? If so, Skelton’s completion percentage looks a little better. Not much maybe, but every little bit helps…

  5. By Darren Urban on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Rick R —

    RE: Spikes

    Yes, spikes are counted as incompletions.

  6. By Basil Davis on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Darren- Topic came up this morning about who was likely to be coaching the Senior Bowl this year and the concensus here is that Whiz was at the top of the list of probable candidates. Any word on this or perhaps you could inquire? It’s getting to be that time of the year already. Certainly the team could use the edge in drafting coming off such a dissapointing year.

  7. By Darren Urban on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Basil —

    RE: Senior Bowl

    I have not heard anything, but I will try to poke around.

  8. By Basil Davis on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks Darren. I’d guess the NFL won’t make any formal invites until next week but its a topic I’d think is interesting moving into this offseason.

  9. By Scott H on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Interesting that this is coming to light now…because after the game, when Fitz and Skelton appeared with the NFL Network guys after the game, one of them made the observation that Fitz seemed a little subdued for having just won a game. I actually thought the same, myself. I was wondering why he seemed “down” after such a thrilling end to a big win in their last home game. I guess he really wasn’t all there at that point!

  10. By bmoreaz42 on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    fitz is a true warrior i hope cards do everything in their power to keep him. yes his contract time is coming up!

  11. By Flood on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Any word if he was ever officially diagnosed with a concussion. If so, has he began the tests to get cleared? Have you heard any word of him sitting the finale because of this (if concussion was the call). Thanks for keeping us fans in the know.

  12. By Darren Urban on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Flood —

    RE: Fitz head

    No. He seemed fine after the game (even said a couple of things to me running off the field, and then did media) and was fine at practice yesterday. Wouldn’t be surprised if he never said anything until the drive was brought up by reporters yesterday.

  13. By joe again on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    7 or 8 years from now, as Fitz nears the end of his Hall of Fame career, and the whole league is talking about the famous Skelton to Fitz tandum (which was especially potent in their Super Bowl victory), we will all look back at that 4th and 15 as being the play that started it all.

    I’m just waiting for the game where Skelton has it really all come together for him — he’s eventually going to have one of those games where it really starts to cliick, and then some team is gonna get blown out. (heads up, 9ers!)

  14. By Basil Davis on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Musing on Skelton’s low completion %, spikes aside, there sure have been a lot of dropped passes since he came in. Reviewing his scouting reports coming out of school, he was reported to throw a ‘heavy ball’, so it could be partly him needing a better feel on touch passes; something Kurt, who didn’t have nearly as strong of an arm, certainly was a master at.

  15. By AndyStandsUp on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Speaking of concussions, is Derek Anderson going to be second or third string in what will probably be his last Card game?

  16. By Darren Urban on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    RE: Anderson

    I’d guess third QB.

  17. By Boondock on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply


    Unrelated question for you but do you see the Cards finally getting a legit TE by signing ASU alumni Zach Miller (a FA in 2011)? Every year I want us to draft a decent TE and we never do (or when we try we strike out…Leonard Pope). Miller has a solid season but not amazing due to QB play and nagging injuries so I figure we should be able to get him signed without overpaying too much. Look at the great offenses this year and they all have one thing in common, they utilize their TEs!

    Pass the message along to Graves (haha), I am sure Skelton (or McNabb or Bulger) would appreciate having a great TE to sling the rock to.

    Keep up the good work Urb!


  18. By clssylssy on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    First of all, Basil…STOP with the comparisons to Warner! Skelton is a diamond in the rough and has done a great job in his first three appearances in the NFL..nothing to be ashamed of, forget the QB ratings etc. I haven’t been this excited about a new QB since Jake the Snake! As for Fitz, Geez, I can’t believe nobody wouldn’t notice him being “out of it”, and,for that matter be concerned enough to have him thoroghly evaluated by a neurologist. Even though he is soft spoken and unassuming I would think ANYBODY would pick up on a hit to our major player who didn’t remember the end of the game! It’s obvious that the players need a better association looking after their interests!

  19. By Darren Urban on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    clssy —

    RE: Fitz

    Watching the tape, unless you were a teammate on the field looking right at him (like the cameras were) you probable wouldn’t have noticed. He got back up and jogged back to the huddle. And like I said, he talked to me right after the game and didn’t sound “dinged” at that point. If I hadn’t seen the broadcast hours later (and if he hadn’t mentioned it), I never would have known.

  20. By Pheenic Cromartie on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Joe Again,

    I’m with you there. I can see that happening, and I’m waiting for the day we win the Superbowl. When that happens, and when the John Skelton-Fitz tandem becomes the most famous in NFL history, those two days will be on the top of my greatest days in my life list.

  21. By Darthcard on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    That was a great game. Defense came to play. John Skelton absolutely showed heart. That 4th and 15 dropped my jaw. The team really played for and with each other. This was something to be proud of. That warmed my Christmas

  22. By Eazy E on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Whew Thank God!!!

  23. By CrazyLady25 on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    I am not surprised about Skelton. a few more years, and he will be one of the top 5 QB’s in the league. We just need to get the left side of the O-Line right, and get a REAL TE.

  24. By AndyStandsUp on Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

    Totally unrelated to the blog, but so in touch with the site: Willie Wood went to the Pro Bowl eight times as Green Bay Packer wearing number 24, while Willie Brown and Charles Woodson went 8 times as well for the Oakland Raiders.
    So, Wolf you’re tied unless you consider players who moved liked Champ Bailey and Lenny Moore.

  25. By Stevie on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, I know this is very late since the original post, but I noticed when checking on that Fitz’s stats for receptions and yards are not much different from last year with one game to go. If it is not stats, is is just wins that keep everyone (sports writers and fans, alike) saying that we have to get a QB next year to keep Larry a Card? Thanks for your thoughtful responses to all posts–even the rants.

  26. By Darren Urban on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    Stevie —

    RE: Fitz

    Wins are very important to this equation. Fitz’s touchdowns are also way down. And many of Fitz’s catches, unfortunately, came in meaningless garbage time. He doesn’t want to be irrelevant.

  27. By BLOOD RED on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    Zach Miller would be a real nice fit!!Fitz as we all know is a warrior that will always bleed Cardinal red!!He is exactly what every coach across this country should teach the kids to be like.I know this staff and ownership will do the right thing for this team,fans,franchise,and Fitz.He is a big part of the little bit of respect we get.I really like the composure of Skelton and would love for him to break out against the winers on sun.Mark my words (This kid will be an all pro QB)and hopefully it is with the Cards.I will also be the first to state he will end up being better than Bradford!Let’s go Skelton!!!Go out this week and give all of us something good to think about this offseason.Then study your butt off,work out and come out next year and win your job.Real Cardinal fans believe in you doesn’t matter where you are from or what pick you were drafted just stay humble and do your job.Looks like a young faster Big Ben to me.I know it is early but watch this kid is special.ROCK N ROLL REDBIRDS!!!!

  28. By cardsalltheway on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    I wonder why I was able to immediately see that J. Skelton was better than Max Hall and Ken W. wasn’t? Or, maybe Ken W. simply bought time(in his mind not mine) for J. Skelton by putting Max Hall ahead of Skelton in hopes that would help Skelton in the long run while as we all now know it cost the Cardinals the season? I’d compare it to in a way as to how teams in the past have tried to lose so that their standing in drafts are better. I just wonder why Ron Wolfley suggests that anyone who would think that the Cardinals would do such a thing is in “Fantasy Land?” I’m not saying a team tries to lose, all I’m saying that teams try to commit penalties(i.e. the reason for running clocks down 10 seconds when offensive teams intentionally commits a certain kind of penalty which almost happened last week). Professional teams have tried to miss/lose in the past which is why this topic has been discussed so much recently. What hasn’t been explained is why Ken W. and the Cardinals are so special in that they wouldn’t do it? Last minute…”Hey J. Feely DON’T MAKE THE FIELD GOAL.”

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