Fitz has a big day, Cardinals get first shutout in 25 years
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 25, 2017 09:13 AM
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) is tripped up by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones (55) as free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) pursues during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
By Bob Baum, Associated Press
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Larry Fitzgerald had a big day in what might have been the final home game of his prolific career and the Arizona Cardinals shut out an opponent for the first time in 25 seasons in a 23-0 victory over Eli Manning and the New York Giants on Sunday.
Fitzgerald, an 11-time Pro Bowl selection in his 14 NFL seasons, caught nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. He even completed a pass for the first time (in three career tries), a 21-yarder to Jaron Brown.
Manning, on the other hand, could not get the offense moving for the Giants (2-13) and got no help on the ground.
The 36-year-old quarterback completed 27 of 45 passes for 263 yards and was intercepted twice, both by Antoine Bethea. Manning also had the ball stripped by Deone Bucannon and returned 21 yards for a touchdown by Robert Nkemdiche.
Arizona had not shut out an opponent since a 17-0 win over the Giants on Dec. 12, 1992. The Giants were last shut out on Oct. 12, 2014, 27-0 by the Eagles.
The only real New York threat came when Aldrick Rojas missed a 33-yard field goal.
With the victory for Arizona (7-8), Bruce Arians moved into a tie with Ken Whisenhunt for most victories by a Cardinals coach (49).
The Giants fell to 0-3 under interim coach Steve Spagnuolo, who took over after Ben McAdoo was fired.
Arians benched quarterback Blaine Gabbert after five starts and returned to Drew Stanton, who completed 20 of 34 for 209 yards, including TDs passes of 13 yards to Fitzgerald and 15 yards to John Brown but was intercepted twice.
Fitzgerald, at 34, became the oldest player with 100 catches and 1,000 yards in the same season. He has a contract for next season with Arizona but said last week he didn’t know when he’d make a decision on whether to play anymore.
The Cardinals entered the game without a touchdown — but 10 field goals — in their previous 10 quarters, and they added another three-pointer with Phil Dawson’s 21-yard chip shot with 5:29 left in the first quarter.
After the kickoff, New York drove near midfield but, looking over the middle, Manning apparently didn’t see Bethea move from his safety spot to pick off the pass, and tight end Evan Engram, the Giants’ leading receiver, injured his ribs on the play and didn’t return.
Arizona’s touchdown drought ended in the waning moments of the first half. In a drive that started at their 21, the Cardinals went 79 in 11 plays, aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty against Olivier Vernon on third-and-3, Stanton hit Fitzgerald with a 13-yard TD pass that put Arizona up 10-0 with 1:01 left in the second quarter.
Arizona took the second-half kickoff and went 75 yards in eight plays, culminated by a 15-yard touchdown pass to John Brown that made it 16-0. Dawson’s conversion try was no good.
The Giants lost their leading receiver, tight end Evan Engram, in the first half with a rib injury. New York safety Landon Collins was knocked out of the game with a forearm injury in the third quarter.
Arizona linebacker Haason Reddick left with a foot injury in the second quarter.
Giants: Finish their season at home against Washington on Sunday.
Cardinals: Complete their season at Seattle on Sunday.