Teammates see Arizona Cardinals' David Johnson as MVP candidate

By The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 5, 2016 at 2:25 AM
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There are several deserving candidates up for the NFL's Most Valuable Player award this season, but according to two prominent players on the Cardinals, nobody deserves it more than Arizona running back David Johnson.

"I think he is the best in the NFL, point blank. I think he has proven that," quarterback Carson Palmer said after Johnson joined Edgerrin James as the only two players in league history to gain 100 or more scrimmage yards in each of their first 12 games to start a season.

"Ours wins and losses have affected some of the hype that he has not gotten and other guys have gotten because they are on winning teams. He is the best player in the NFL."

Receiver Larry Fitzgerald concurred.

"I think the National Football League's MVP is David Johnson," he said.

With two touchdowns Sunday, Johnson now has 15 on the year -- the second most in a single season for a Cardinals player -- and he is now closing in on the franchise record of 17 touchdowns, set in 1962 by John David Crow.

"I've been fortunate to be around a couple of good backs. Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James were pretty good when they were young and he reminds me a lot of those two guys," coach Bruce Arians said of Johnson.

FITZGERALD NOW NO. 3

--With a 3-yard reception at the end of the third quarter on Sunday, Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald recorded career catch No. 1,103, which moved him into sole possession of third place on the NFL's all-time receptions list.

He passed two Hall of Famers, Cris Carter (1,101 receptions) and Marvin Harrison (1,102) during his 10-catch perforce in Arizona's 31-23 win.

Had the Cardinals not won the game, the 13-year pro said the milestone wouldn't have felt the same.

"It definitely wouldn't be as sweet," Fitzgerald, 33, said. "I grew up watching those guys (Carter and Harrison). I grew up emulating them and tried to do everything that they did. To have your name mentioned in the same breath with those guys is truly humbling. It is great to be able to do that."

ABOUT THAT INTERCEPTION

--Even if they had scored a late touchdown, the Redskins still would have had to be successful on a two-point conversion attempt just to tie the game at 31. As it was, they never got the opportunity because Patrick Peterson intercepted a Kirk Cousins pass to seal the game.

Cousins said he should have asked for help on that fateful play.

"It was cover zero and I thought about getting max protection, but I ended up not," Cousins said. "In hindsight, I would have changed the protection but I had thrown the scout route versus the same coverage on the previous play. I didn't feel like that was going to give me a great choice, so I drifted to my choice route and I thought that if I drifted to that it would give (Jamison) Crowder time to break off his route.

"I wasn't really sure which way he was going to break, and when he did break in, I felt the rush and kind of forced it in earlier than I wanted to. The result is what it was."

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

--Cardinals receiver J.J. Nelson said the team ran the exact same play last week in practice as the one on which he scored the game-sealing, 42-yard touchdown at the end of Sunday's game. Only in practice, he bungled it complexly.

"Yeah, we actually ran that play at practice this week and I kind of took a bad angle," Nelson said. "I was like, 'Man, if I get this opportunity again, I'm not going to mess that up.'"

Leading the Redskins 24-23 with 2:03 left to play, the Cardinals faced a second and 10 at the Washington 42-yard line. Instead of running the ball, which nearly everyone expected, coach Bruce Arians went up to Nelson during a timeout and asked him a question.

"Coach asked me, 'Hey, do you want this play?'" Nelson said. "I told him, I said, 'Hell yeah.' I was just praying Carson (Palmer) had the confidence to throw it to me and he did and I was happy I was able to make the play."

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