Larry Fitzgerald throws first TD pass in long career

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Add a touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald's Hall of Fame-worthy résumé.

The Arizona Cardinals star receiver threw his first NFL touchdown pass -- and first touchdown pass since high school -- with 9:47 left in the second quarter Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

On a first-and-10 play from the Rams' 32, Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen threw a backward pass to Fitzgerald, who cut inside a few yards and then planted his feet before throwing a perfect ball to running back David Johnson for a 32-yard score that pulled the Cardinals to 14-9.

The Cardinals had been working on the play in practice for several weeks, coach Steve Wilks said. It was called earlier in the game but didn't come to fruition, Fitzgerald said.

On the play, Johnson was Fitzgerald's only read. If Johnson hadn't been open, Fitzgerald would've tucked the ball and ran. Rosen's only responsibility on the play was to make sure his pass to Fitzgerald was backward.

Then it was all on Fitzgerald.

"I guess it's like a layup in basketball: You can't miss it," Fitzgerald said. "I wanted to put a little air on it, and it came out a little wobbly. It looked like a [Kurt] Warner ball right there, but just as Kurt Warner's was, it was effective."

After the play, Fitzgerald gave offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who told Fitzgerald he was going to call the play Sunday, a chest bump.

With a smile, Johnson called the pass "a little duck" but said he was nervous being as wide open as he was.

"I was so wide open that I was praying that I didn't drop it," Johnson said. "Those are the tough ones when you're wide open. It's tough to catch those ones. They're almost harder to catch."

Fitzgerald, at age 35 years, 114 days, is the oldest wide receiver to throw a passing touchdown since the 1970 merger, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Before Sunday, Fitzgerald was 1-of-3 passing for 21 yards.

So who throws a better touchdown pass: Rosen or Fitzgerald?

"Today? Larry," Rosen said. "I haven't thrown one in a couple games. No, that was awesome. I think Larry was even a little surprised on that, but it was cool to watch."

Fitzgerald is the first non-quarterback to throw a touchdown pass for the Cardinals since running back Emmitt Smith threw a 21-yard TD to Obafemi Ayanbadejo on Oct. 3, 2004. Fitzgerald, a rookie when that play happened, remembered Ayanbadejo throwing the ball in the stands, and Smith said to him: "I've been playing 16 years and never done that before. Go get the football," Fitzgerald said.

But Fitzgerald didn't notice when Johnson gave the ball to a fan Sunday afternoon.

"I didn't think about it until after I gave it to the fan," Johnson said.

"I hope I get the ball. I know I gave it to a fan. Hopefully, she'll be nice enough to give it back. It was good that I caught it, and Larry being a legend, and everybody knows he's going to the Hall of Fame. I was glad to be the only one."

Fitzgerald entered Sunday No. 2 on the NFL's all-time receiving yards list and third on the league's all-time receptions list. At halftime of Sunday's game, Fitzgerald had five catches for 41 yards. He needed 33 catches to pass Tony Gonzalez, who has 1,325 career catches, for second on the all-time receptions list.

After the play, the fans inside State Farm Stadium broke out in a "Lar-ry! Lar-ry!" chant, which led to some Cardinals asking Johnson who actually scored the touchdown.

"It was pretty funny having my teammates coming up to me and saying, 'I thought you scored the touchdown,'" Johnson said. "I said, 'No, Larry threw it.'"