GLENDALE, Ariz. – Larry Fitzgerald enjoyed his typical big day against the 49ers, but cornerback Jimmie Ward clearly gained a lot of respect along the way.
Fitzgerald, who moved past Terrell Owens into sixth place on the NFL’s all-time receptions list, caught 12 passes for 133 yards in the Cardinals' 23-20 victory over the 49ers on Sunday. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer directed 18 passes toward his favorite target. Two of Fitzgerald's receptions on Arizona's first scoring drive were diving grabs.
Ward, who was not on Fitzgerald the entire game, broke up four passes and made a hit on Fitzgerald near the end of the first half that left Fitzgerald with a sore knee and a possible sprain.
“I was just trying to bring energy and bring juice to the defense,” said Ward, who was also called for a 38-yard pass interference penalty and two holding calls that resulted in automatic first downs.
Ward asked Fitzgerald, a 13-year veteran, for his jersey afterward. Fitzgerald included the following inscription:
I admire your toughness and grit. You bring it every time we battle. I wish you the best in your career!”
Said Ward, “That’s a legend. I look forward to playing him. He ended up giving me his jersey and wrote something on it for me. I like playing against competition. There aren’t too many words you can say about a legend. He’s great.”