TEMPE, Ariz. | Everyone associated with the Arizona Cardinals knew that it was just a matter of time before Larry Fitzgerald had another big game.
After all, it has happened so many times before.
So to the surprise of no one, after a slow start in the first two games of the season, Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 114 yards and a touchdown last Sunday in Arizona's 27-6 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
It was his 33rd career 100-yard receiving game, and he has yet to reach his 30th birthday.
"I'd say he's pretty good," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
Fitzgerald holds every franchise receiving record, from receptions (707) to yards receiving (9,796) to touchdowns (74).
He is the first player to catch 700 passes before turning 30. Among active players, only Randy Moss, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates have more touchdown catches. Since 2005, no one has more yards receiving or touchdown catches.
In the Cardinals' run to the Super Bowl in the 2008 season, Fitzgerald broke virtually every receiving record with 30 catches, 546 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. He also set an NFL record with four consecutive 100-yard receiving games.
Arizona went back to the playoffs the following season, but hasn't been there since. So this year's surprising 3-0 start is a relief.
" I've been here many, many years of not making playoffs and that's no fun, sitting back and watching other teams play," he said.
So he insists that the statistics don't mean much, at least not anymore.
"I try to do whatever I can to contribute, to help our team come out victorious week in and week out," Fitzgerald sai9d. "If that's catching 10 balls, it's catching 10. If it's catching one, it's catching one. Whatever is called upon to get the job done."
Through the first two weeks of the season, Fitzgerald had five catches for 67 yards. He caught just one pass for four yards in the Cardinals' 20-18 win at New England.
Fitzgerald said that in his younger days, not getting the ball a lot may have meant more to him than it does now.
"From a personal standpoint, on an individual level I've accomplished some things," he said. "It's not as important anymore. It just feels good to be in the position that we're in now and I want to do everything I can to keep us rolling."
That attitude is invaluable to Whisenhunt.
"It's special to have a guy like that on your team," the coach said, "not just because of the production, but because of what else he brings to the table — unselfishness, hard work, leadership, all those things. When you talk about a team, he's an important part of that."
The breakout game this season came against a team that Fitzgerald has burned before. It was his third straight 100-plus-yard game against the Eagles, a string that began with his 9-catch, 152-yard, 3-touchdown performance in the 2008 season's NFC championship game.
His effort on Sunday, which helped the team go 3-0 for the first time in 38 years, earned him NFC offensive player of the week honors.
"Everybody knows Larry's capabilities and playmaking ability," quarterback Kevin Kolb said. "It's my job and our job to find ways to get him the ball, and you can see what happens whenever we do."
Fitzgerald's statistics already rival those of players enshrined in the Hall of Fame. It's obviously a destination this extremely proud player wants to achieve, but this extremely cautious speaker, at least in public, won't say he deserves to be there.
"I just want to be the best player I can be on Sunday," he said. "I mean, if I'm doing that, I'm going in the right direction. That's kind of how I look at it. All those numbers and stats don't mean anything. I just know that championships are what really matters."
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