Fitzgerald played like a man possessed throughout Arizona's 26-20 overtime win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Round, an instant classic that deserves to take its place alongside the very best games in playoff history. But it was after Aaron Rodgers' Hail Mary, Part II (and yes, that really did happen) that Fitzgerald reminded us why he'll go down as one of the greatest to ever play the wide receiver position.
It started with a brilliant catch and run on the first play of overtime. Fitzgerald ran a shallow cross that put him in no-man's land as Carson Palmer scrambled away from pressure to the opposite side of the field. But Palmer somehow spotted Fitzgerald, connected with an accurate pass and watched the 32-year-old playmaker do the rest.
Fitzgerald evaded six different Green Bay defenders as he zig-zagged toward the end zone, a beautiful ankle tackle by Casey Hayward the only thing that stopped Fitzgerald from going the distance. The 75-yard gain put the Cardinals on the precipice of victory after the Packers appeared destined to steal the game.
"It's spectacular," Palmer said during his press conference as he watched a replay of Fitzgerald's heroics on a television behind reporters.
This was Fitzgerald's game now. On first-and-goal, Palmer looked for his safety blanket again, sailing a pass out of the end zone. On second down, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians unleashed a play he'd been sitting on for months. Palmer took the shotgun snap and shoveled it to Fitzgerald, who darted into the end zone for the game-ending touchdown. Bedlam in Glendale.
"We've been saving that little shovel pass for about 18 weeks," Arians said. "It was finally the right time to use it."
Fitzgerald finished with eight receptions for 176 yards and the winning score. He's the only player in the Super Bowl era to have three games of over 150 receiving yards in the playoffs. Canton can work up the bust right now and just keep it in storage.
"It was very appropriate for him to finish the game that way," Palmer said. "Especially finish the game in the end zone to get the win. But he means a lot to this team, he means so much to this community and it's spectacular some of the things he does on the field."
A teammate watching from a luxury box above offered a perfect summation of another legendary Fitzgerald night.
Yes they do.