SARASOTA, Fla. -- It’s the story of a star receiver matching up against a star cornerback.
Sunday’s Arizona-Tampa Bay Buccaneers clash will feature a titanic battle from within, Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald lining up across from Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis. This will be the second time the two University of Pittsburgh products have faced each other during the regular season.
In their last meeting, a 56-35 Cardinals' loss to the New York Jets in Week 4 of the 2008 season, Fitzgerald had 122 yards on eight receptions when Revis was on the field at the same time, according to ESPN Stats and Research. Revis had the last laugh when he intercepted a Kurt Warner pass intended for Fitzgerald late in the game.
They squared off in the 2012 Pro Bowl, when Fitzgerald caught a touchdown past Revis.
“Darrelle is playing at an elite level, as always. I don’t see any difference in his play,” said Fitzgerald, referring to Revis’ recovery from an ACL that kept him out of last year’s Cardinals-Jets game.
Both men play for these types of matchups. But Bucs coach Greg Schiano was careful to not tip his hand. He wouldn’t reveal if Revis will defend Fitzgerald the entire game, a stark contrast from Peterson, who publicly admitted his plan to guard Detroit Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson on every play possible two weeks ago.
Schiano would only go as far as saying “there’ll be times he’s matched up on Larry.”
Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan stayed in line with Schiano’s message but did reveal a little about the Fitzgerald-Revis matchup.
“That’s exactly why you have a guy like that, to cover other teams’ top receiver and receivers,” Sheridan said. “And [Arizona] has a couple of them for sure.”
Whether Tampa Bay single or double covers Fitzgerald is yet to be seen, but it could open the field for Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd, both of whom have learned to play off Fitzgerald’s coverage. With Fitzgerald hampered by a hamstring injury the last two games, the Lions and New Orleans Saints were both able to key in on Roberts and Floyd, but with Fitzgerald healthy again, teams have to pick their poison.
And Revis would prefer a healthy poison.
"I’m excited he’s healthy and I’m excited he’s back [from injury],” Revis said. “So it’s going to be fun.”