Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer hailed wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald as “special” after his performance in overtime settled a thrilling divisional play-off encounter with the Green Bay Packers.
The Cardinals took a 17-13 lead on a deflected touchdown pass to Michael Floyd and then extended their advantage to 20-13 with a Chandler Catanzaro field goal following a failed fourth-down conversion attempt by the Packers.
But, backed up in is his own end zone on fourth down with 55 seconds left, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers rolled to his left and found Jeff Janis for a 61-yard catch to keep the Packers’ hopes alive.
And, as time expired, Rodgers forced overtime in incredible fashion, again escaping the Arizona pass rush and heaving a ‘Hail Mary’ pass into the end zone for Janis to make a leaping grab, with the extra point tying the game up at 20-20.However, following an overtime coin toss done twice after the coin failed to flip first time around, Fitzgerald secured a dramatic victory for Arizona.
Palmer somehow avoided a sack and threw across his body to a wide open Fitzgerald, who raced up field for a 75-yard gain before then sealing the triumph and a place in the NFC Championship game by catching a five-yard shovel pass and walking into the end zone.
Asked about Fitzgerald, Palmer said: “Special I mean he’s just a special player, he plays well in big games, as simple of a word as special is it describes him, probably the best.
“It was a wild game, we knew they [Green Bay] were going to play well, you have to take your hat off to them. They fought and played us really good on defense, they made plays on offense obviously.
“We just didn’t give up hope, talking at the locker room at half-time we were right where we needed to be, and came on top, kept the faith, kept believing and we found our way at the end.”
The victory marked 36-year-old’s Palmer’s first play-off win having gone 0-2 in his previous post-season starts.
“It feels good [to win a play-off game] it feels better than I thought,” Palmer added. “But there’s no way we’re done or satisfied. We’re excited about what’s ahead of us.”