TAMPA, Fla. - The final numbers in Super Bowl XLIII showed yet another huge postseason game for Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Seven catches, 127 yards and two touchdowns are the stuff MVPs are made of.
But, much like the Cardinals’ offense as a whole, the bulk of that total came in the final quarter as Arizona nearly pulled off the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Fitzgerald was held to just one catch through three quarters as the Steelers often disrupted him by playing him close to the line. And the Steelers got enough of a pass rush that, although they didn’t sack Kurt Warner often, it was too late for him to get the ball to Fitzgerald by the time the receiver got past the coverage at the line of scrimmage.
But Fitzgerald exploded in the final quarter, with six catches for 115 yards.
Fitzgerald admitted frustration that he didn’t get the ball more early.
“I couldn’t let people see that. … If the ball wasn’t thrown to me for some reason, I’m not pointing fingers.
“When I was younger, I probably would have lost my cool and got a little upset. But in a game of this magnitude, I knew we were going to call my number and eventually there were going to be some balls thrown my way.
“I just wanted to make sure I was in the right mind frame so I could take advantage when I had my opportunity.”
In the final quarter, the Cardinals went with a no-huddle offense. Other times, they let the play clock run down so the Steelers would have to show their hand defensively.
Fitzgerald scored a 1-yard touchdown on the the Cardinals’ patented lob pass to the corner of the end zone, bringing them within 20-14 with 7:33 left in the game.
He finally broke through in a big way with 2:37 remaining, when he took a Warner pass over the middle and broke free up the middle of the field for a 64-yard touchdown to give the Cardinals their only lead of the game, 23-20.
“When I had my chances, I feel I was able to make some plays,” Fitzgerald said. “We were able to get it going a little in the second half.”
Fitzgerald also got to play some defense. He came within inches of bringing down James Harrison on the linebacker’s 100-yard interception return on the final play of the first half.
“I was hoping the call would be changed in our favor,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s a phenomenal player. He was the defensive player of the year. He showed why. He’s an amazing player.”
So is Fitzgerald. He ended up with a postseason for the ages, catching 30 passes for 546 yards and seven touchdowns, setting NFL records in all categories.