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Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald sets NFL record for most receptions with one team

Arizona Republic logo Arizona Republic 12/10/2018 Katherine Fitzgerald
a football player holding a football ball on a field: Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald makes his 1,282 career reception against Detroit Lions' Nevin Lawson in the third quarter during a game on Dec. 9 at State Farm Stadium. Fitzgerald set an NFL record for most career receptions with one team, passing Jerry Rice. © Provided by Gannett Co., Inc. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald makes his 1,282 career reception against Detroit Lions' Nevin Lawson in the third quarter during a game on Dec. 9 at State Farm Stadium. Fitzgerald set an NFL record for most career receptions with one team, passing Jerry Rice.

A few plays before, the crowd started preemptively cheering: "LAR-RY, LAR-RY."

Late in the third quarter, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had yet to snag a catch. He'd been targeted just once. He could hear the crowd, and he knew why they were getting impatient. History was on the line.

A few plays later, they cheered again. He made it. With 5:48 left in the third quarter, Fitzgerald became all-time.

It was his 1,282nd catch with the Cardinals. No player in NFL history has had more receptions with one team. 

Fitzgerald's 14-yard reception set the league record and extended his streak to 224 games with a reception. Setting the record in front of the home crowd was one highlight for the team in the 17-3 loss to the Lions. Fitzgerald hadn't yet processed what the record meant in the context of a loss. 

"I don't know. My mind is not there," Fitzgerald said. "I am just frustrated with the way things turned out. It is just frustrating."

Fitzgerald passed Jerry Rice, who had 1,281 catches with the 49ers over 16 years. He ended the day with five catches on nine targets for 55 yards. His other four catches all came in the fourth quarter.

"Detroit actually just dealt with him pretty aggressively pretty early," quarterback Josh Rosen said. "They kind of laid off of that in the second half, which is why he started to get his catches. They took him away and tried to make a couple of plays with some other guys, and it didn't work out, but it did down the stretch."

Fitzgerald was targeted just once in the first half. Detroit often double-teamed him. Lions coach Matt Patricia thinks Fitzgerald can never be totally shut down, so they just wanted to contain him for as long as possible. 

"Coach (Paul) Pasqualoni and that defense, third downs, I got bracketed quite a few times and they had some over-the-top coverage," Fitzgerald said. "They had a good game plan for us."

As the Cardinals dropped another game, Fitzgerald was quiet after the game. The future Hall of Famer is collecting records, but he would trade them for some wins.

"When I am done, I think I can look back and reflect on it," Fitzgerald said on passing Rice. "Now is not the time. Being 3-10 is not a good feeling. I don't feel celebratory."

There were a few things he could still appreciate in the moment. It's meaningful to Fitzgerald to spend all that time with the same team, and he knows this particular record is a testament to that. He said he's grateful for the chance to keep playing, for the coaches and front office that keep him there, and for the fans that keep supporting him. 

Plus, the game gave him a chance to see more of what the other wide receivers can do. 

Rookie Trent Sherfield led all receivers with 77 yards on five catches. He was targeted seven times, including one the team would like to take back. 

On third and 14 in the third quarter, Rosen looked for Sherfield to his right. Darius Slay undercut the route, intercepted Rosen and ran it back 67-yards for the Lions' first touchdown of the day.

Sherfield said his chemistry with Rosen has been getting better. At that point, Rosen had already connected to Sherfield twice on third down for conversions. Sherfield's shortest catch of the day was still good for 11 yards. 

"I thought he stepped up," Wilks said. "He came up with some key catches for us."

Sherfield wasn't the only undrafted rookie stepping up. Jalen Tolliver saw his first NFL action, and caught both passes thrown his way for a total of 22 yards. His first reception at the pro level was a 10-yard pickup on third down. J.J. Nelson added 43 yards on three catches.

Even in the loss, Fitzgerald was pleased with what he saw out of the young receivers. 

"I was really happy to see those guys perform," Fitzgerald said. "Right now, when you are eliminated from the playoffs, that is all you can do is just build. Every single day you go out to work. ... They come to work and really give it their best. It matters to them, they care. We are just trying to hold a standard."

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald sets NFL record for most receptions with one team

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