Commentary

Why Fitzgerald couldn't be stopped

Originally Published: February 2, 2009
By Alan Grant | ESPN The Magazine
So last week I told you that the best way to stop Larry Fitzgerald is to keep Kurt Warner from throwing the ball to him. A funny thing happened in the Super Bowl, though. For much of the first half, anticipating the Steelers' pass rush, the Cardinals' coaching staff simply chose not to throw to Fitzgerald.

Arizona's coaches knew the defense would roll its coverage towards the Cardinals' playmaker. And the Steelers did. They used safety Troy Polamalu at the line of scrimmage to bully him, with cornerback Ike Taylor playing deep. While the Steelers did this, Kurt Warner threw to Anquan Boldin and Edgerrin James and Steve Breaston. It was working, too. In the closing moments of the second quarter, Fitzgerald had yet to touch the ball. But the Cardinals trailed just 10-7. It was time.

With just over two minutes left in the half, the Cardinals faced second-and-10. Fitzgerald got by Polamalu and slithered upfield. For a moment he was open in the hook. But before Warner could hit him, Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley came screaming off the edge. Feeling his presence, Warner hurried his throw and the ball sailed over Fitzgerald's outstretched arms.

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Alan Grant is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. He is a former NFL defensive back who played college football at Stanford.

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