Wide­out Fitzger­ald takes long route back to playo≠ s

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Bob Baum

tempe, ariz. » Seven years ago, Larry Fitzger­ald­was break­ing NFL records in the Ari­zona Car­di­nals’ im­prob­a­ble run to the Su­per Bowl.

It was, the wide re­ceiver said, the high­light of his pro­fes­sional ca­reer. At least so far.

“Play­ing on the big­gest stage in the Su­per Bowl, not win­ning it, but just the jour­ney that Iwas able to take with the men I was able to do it with re­ally made it spe­cial,” Fitzger­ald said. “Hope­fully, we can cre­ate some new mem­o­ries this year.”

When the Car­di­nals play the Green Bay Pack­ers in a divi­sional round game Satur­day night, things will be quite dif­fer­ent than they were back when he was the spec­tac­u­lar young player on the re­ceiv­ing end of Kurt Warner’s passes.

For one, his role has changed. For an­other, Ari­zona is ex­pected to win.

In 2008, the Car­di­nals won the NFCWest at 9- 7, los­ing four of their last six games.

“We were con­sid­ered the worst play­off team ever to get into the dance,” Fitzger­ald re­called, “but it’s a lot dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion when you’re be­ing hunted as op­posed to hunt­ing.

“We came in the sur­prise team. ‘ They’ll prob­a­bly get knocked out in the first round.’ No­body ex­pected any­thing and we kind of played to that. Now we’re the fa­vorites. We’re ex­pected to win.”

Through those four play­off games, Fitzger­ald shat­tered sin­gle post­sea­son records for yards ( 546), re­cep­tions ( 30) and touch­downs ( seven).

Ari­zona won the NFC West again the fol­low­ing sea­son, but Warner re­tired and the team’s for­tunes spi­raled­down­ward­with a suc­ces­sion of quar­ter­backs.

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