Pitt in the NFL: Fitzgerald shows flashes of former self


By Chris Puzia / Sports Editor

Week eight in the NFL showcased almost unanimously strong performances from former Pitt players, and two of the individuals with better games this week played against each other.

Sunday’s marquee matchup also featured two former Pitt stars when LeSean McCoy’s Philadelphia Eagles traveled to meet Larry Fitzgerald’s Arizona Cardinals in a matchup between 5-1 teams.

Each player has had struggles this year, but, for both — mainly Fitzgerald — the game was reminiscent of several years ago, when the two players dominated the game. Fitzgerald ended the day with seven catches for 160 yards and a touchdown, easily his best game of the season. The game was his first time going more than 100 yards this season, and he grabbed his second touchdown in three games.

It was no coincidence the Cardinals won the game 24-20. Now that quarterback Carson Palmer is healthy and willing to throw the ball more than his backups, Fitzgerald can only benefit.

McCoy finished with 97 total yards, but head coach Chip Kelly seems to be regaining trust in the former Panther, as McCoy has now carried the ball 20 or more times in three straight games. Even more impressive is that this performance came against the Cardinals, who reserve arguably the best run defense in the NFL. He had now gone more than 80 rushing yards in three straight games.

Aaron Donald, the St. Louis Rams’ 2014 first-round pick, continued to make highlight plays in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The rookie defensive tackle made several notable tackles for a loss that stopped running back Jamaal Charles before he got any momentum going. People around the country are beginning to notice his play so far and his ability to burst through offensive linemen to get to the backfield. Many analysts are considering Donald a strong candidate to win honors as Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Darrelle Revis had another excellent week for the New England Patriots, matching up against top Bears receiver Brandon Marshall for most of the game. Consequently, Marshall finished the game catching only three of his 10 targets for a total of 35 yards. Revis also picked up four tackles and an interception. 

Ben Volin of The Boston Globe said in an article Tuesday that Revis and teammate Brandon Browner “matched up well with the Bears’ stable of tall receivers … and essentially shut them down.”

Cleveland Browns teammates Jabaal Sheard and K’Waun Williams didn’t have to do as much as they have in past weeks to still help the defense shut down the winless Oakland Raiders. In the Browns’ 23-13 win, the Pitt products combined for five tackles.