Trust the game plan: Birds know stopping Fitzgerald is key to beating Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald led the Phoenix Symphony Thursday night, a special honor to usher in a new football season in Arizona. Come Sunday, he’ll be leading the Cardinals’ offense up against a surprisingly stout Eagles defense that is thriving under second-year coordinator Juan Castillo.

The last time these two teams met — Nov. 13, 2011 — Fitzgerald carved up the Birds for 146 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-tying one.

That wasn’t a rarity. In three career games vs. Philly, the wide receiver has 17 catches for 304 yards and five touchdowns, earning him a reputation as a legitimate Eagle killer.

“He’s one of the top players in the National Football League,” coach Andy Reid said. “I think he’ll go down, when he’s all said and done, as one of the top receivers to ever play the game.”

Castillo, a man known for his long hours in the film room, thinks he has the answer. No, he’s not revealing it. He wouldn’t even say which cornerback — Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie — would get the toughest assignment on the field.

“It just depends,” he said. “It’s really the matchups.”

And even though the Patriots held Fitzgerald to just one reception a week ago, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t open. Much to the contrary.

“Looking at the tape there were times when he must not have been the first progression or maybe [the Cardinals] thought [the Patriots] were taking him out of the game,” Castillo said. “There were times when Larry Fitzgerald was open.”

The key is to limiting those times. The Eagles say they have a plan to do that. They said the same thing about stopping the no-huddle last week and that worked out just fine.

“We’ll have a good game plan for him,” safety Nate Allen said. “Hopefully we can keep him to as few yards as he can get.”

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