Cardinals head into bye week relieved by 2nd victory
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — After a tumultuous week, the Arizona Cardinals got a dramatic victory that greatly improves the team's mood heading into this coming week off.
"In the team meeting just now, you could tell the vibe was different," coach Steve Wilks said Monday.
Rookie Josh Rosen threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes, the last a 9-yarder to fellow rookie Christian Kirk with 34 seconds to play, and the Cardinals rallied to beat San Francisco 18-15.
The players had Monday off and were to gather at a fundraiser at a local bowling alley Monday night. The team will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before taking the rest of the week off. Arizona's next game is Nov. 11 at Kansas City.
"Just being able to go out there this week and continue to teach the fundamentals and technique and re-teach some things we probably touched on back in training camp," Wilks said of his plans for this week.
The Cardinals are 2-6, with both wins coming over the 49ers, who dropped to 1-7. Arizona has beaten San Francisco eight straight times, tied for the second-longest active winning streak for any NFL team against a single opponent. Seattle has eight straight wins against the 49ers and Kansas City has beaten the Los Angeles Chargers nine straight times.
Rosen, at 21 years, 260 days, became the youngest quarterback in the Super Bowl era to lead his team to victory from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit. He is the first rookie to do it since Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson both did in the 2012 season.
Rosen had a rough outing until his fortunes changed on those two drives.
"His confidence, his ability to hit the reset button," Wilks said. "Nothing ever fazes this guy in a negative way. He takes everything and he tries to learn from it."
In the final quarter, when he targeted Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald, Rosen was 6 of 7 for 109 yards. Three of Arizona's scoring drives against San Francisco were more than 70 yards — two for touchdowns and one for a field goal. They had four 70-yard drives total in their first seven games.
How much of that is the responsibility of new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is difficult to know, but he had an impact. Leftwich called plays in a regular-season game for the first time after he replaced the fired Mike McCoy.
Wilks obviously was pleased with Leftwich's work.
"I think he's going to continue to try to be creative in his approach and put the guys in position to be successful," Wilks said.
Fitzgerald had his best game of the season, with eight catches for 102 yards. In the fourth quarter, he caught four for 81 yards and a touchdown and had a two-point conversion catch.
The 15-year NFL veteran has 18 TD catches against the 49ers and the Rams, the most against a single opponent by any active player.
Fitzgerald's 13-yard touchdown catch was the 112th TD reception of his career, moving him ahead of Tony Gonzalez into seventh on the NFL career list. His 47 100-yard receiving games are most among any active player.
"Larry is phenomenal," Wilks said.
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