TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals may represent the future of the NFL with their rookie quarterback and first-year head coach.
But some of the team’s highlights from Week 1 could have been from 2009 just as easily as 2019.
Two ageless wonders — receiver Larry Fitzgerald and linebacker Terrell Suggs — had a big afternoon in the team’s 27-27 tie against the Detroit Lions, providing key plays as the Cardinals rallied from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to salvage the stalemate.
The 36-year-old Fitzgerald had eight catches for 113 yards and a touchdown, providing the same big-play threat he’s excelled at for 16 seasons. On the other side of the ball, Suggs, who is also 36, started his 17th NFL season with four tackles and two sacks.
A spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame probably awaits both someday.
They’ve got a few more plays to make before that day comes.
“With those two, it’s professionalism, it’s ridiculous genetics and athleticism,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “They’re both tireless workers and have the same passion for the game. Just watching them, they’re like little kids every day in practice. The joy in which they practice, how they help people out and interact with their teammates.
“It never gets old for them.”
Kingsbury’s perspective on Fitzgerald and Suggs is unique because he’s only a few years older than them and considers both contemporaries. Now one of them is calling the plays, while the other two are making them happen.
Kingsbury said both players have shown him nothing but respect and said that it is still “kind of weird” to hear such accomplished stars call him coach.
“It makes me feel like a slouch, going out there and watching them do what they do,” Kingsbury said. “But it just inspires me. If they can go out there and put their bodies through that, I can wake up early and study some film.”
The two veterans — especially Fitzgerald — have been a big influence on 22-year-old quarterback Kyler Murray, who threw for 308 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in his NFL debut.
Murray described throwing to Fitzgerald as “surreal” in the opener because of his performance and the roar of the crowd. Cardinals fans might be excited for the Murray-Kingsbury era, but nobody gets them going like Fitzgerald when he makes a big play.
Suggs also has ties to Arizona. He went to high school in suburban Phoenix and played at Arizona State before spending his first 16 NFL seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, whom the Cardinals play on Sunday.
“It’s special,” Murray said. “They’ve been in the league a long time and still doing it the way they’re doing it. It’s definitely crazy.”
Fitzgerald isn’t one to get particularly sentimental despite his impressive career. When he played against the Lions, it was his 235th career game, which set a franchise record.
Not only did he play: It was obvious he’s still one of the best players on the field.
“I don’t look at stuff like that; you know me,” Fitzgerald said after Sunday’s game. “When I’m retired, sitting and having a beer with my dad in a few years, I’ll think about that stuff, but I’m always in the moment. This is another game that I’m blessed to play in, and hopefully I can play 15 more games strong and help us get to a playoff spot.”
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