Fitzgerald, Cardinals dominate Giants
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If that turned out to be Larry Fitzgerald's last home game in a Arizona Cardinals uniform, he could have said goodbye at halftime and it would have been a more than fitting farewell.
The veteran wide receiver was a one-man playmaking machine on Sunday during the Cardinals' 23-0 shutout of the New York Giants at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Fitzgerald, who hasn't determined if he will come back for a 15th season despite recently agreeing to a one-year contract extension through 2018, continued to show no signs of slowing down at age 34. In addition to catching a game-high nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown, Fitzgerald also completed his first NFL pass on an end around option, hitting Jaron Brown for a 21-yard gain.
By halftime alone, Fitzgerald already had eight catches for 104 yards and a touchdown, eclipsing both 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards on the season. It's the ninth time he's reached 1,000 yards -- the most by any player in history.
Drew Stanton threw two touchdown passes and safety Antoine Bethea intercepted Giants quarterback Eli Manning twice as Arizona helped send New York to its fifth consecutive loss. The Giants (2-13) haven't struggled in a season this badly since 1973 and '74, when they went 2-11-1 and 2-12, respectively.
Sunday marked the first time the Giants had been shut out since a 27-0 loss to the Eagles on Oct. 12, 2014. It was the first shutout for the Cardinals since they blanked the Giants 19-0 on Dec. 12, 1992.
The Cardinals (7-8) can avoid their second straight losing season under coach Bruce Arians if they win next week at Seattle. If they do, Arians will become the all-time winningest coach in franchise history. He won his 49th game on Sunday, including the postseason, tying Ken Whisenhunt for the most all-time.
Stanton, getting the start in place of Blaine Gabbert, who had made the previous five starts, was 20 of 34 for 209 yards and the two touchdowns. Like Manning, he also was intercepted twice, both times by Giants cornerback Ross Cockrell.
Manning, who appeared in his 215th game for the Giants -- one shy of tying Michael Strahan for the most in franchise history -- completed 27 of 45 passes for 263 yards. Sunday marked the third time in the last five games Manning has played where he was held without a touchdown pass.
Arizona, which got a 21-yard field goal from Phil Dawson to open the scoring, got its first touchdown in three weeks when Stanton hit Fitzgerald for a 13-yard strike with 1:01 left in the first half. That snapped a streak of 183 minutes and 26 seconds without a TD, dating back to the second quarter against the Rams on Dec.3.
Bethea's second interception of Manning helped set up Arizona's next scoring drive, capped by a 15-yard pass from Stanton to John Brown, who had missed the past four games with a toe injury. Dawson missed the extra point and it was 16-0 with 9:25 left in the third.
The Cardinals closed out the scoring at the start of the fourth quarter when Deone Bucannon sacked Manning, forcing a fumble, and Robert Nkemdiche picked it up and rambled 21 yards for a touchdown.
NOTES: The Giants played without starting middle LB B.J. Goodson (ankle) and starting WR Tavarres King (concussion) and lost TE Evan Engram to a rib injury in the first quarter. ... Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald has caught at least one pass in 210 consecutive games and next week can tie Tony Gonzalez (211) for the second-longest streak in NFL history behind Jerry Rice (274). ... Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul played with a familiar club on his right hand, the result, he said, of having suffered a fractured finger last weekend. He had one sack on Sunday. ... Cardinals rookie LB Haason Reddick left the game in the second quarter with a foot injury and did not return.