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If there was anything else Larry Fitzgerald could have done to lift the Cardinals over the Cowboys on “Monday Night Football,” he would have done it.

As it was, he probably did more than even he expected by tying his single-game career high with 13 receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown during Arizona’s 28-17 loss in its home opener at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“It’s demoralizing anytime you lose the game,” Fitzgerald said afterward, sporting a bandage on one forearm, a Band-Aid on his other hand, and a few black and blue marks that were covered by his street clothes.

“It was great energy, we had the home-field advantage, it was Monday Night Football – this would have been a great one to be able to get. But it didn’t come to fruition,. We’ve just got to get back to the drawing board and get back to the drawing board and get ready for San Francisco on a short week. But it stings. It definitely stings.”

Don’t think Fitzgerald’s aching body would feel any better Tuesday morning or Wednesday afternoon had the Cardinals found a way to pull out a victory. Fitzgerald was brutally honest when asked if the bruises, scrapes and cuts wouldn’t hurt so much of the Cardinals were 2-1 instead of 1-2.

McManaman: How Cardinals stars performed vs. Cowboys

“At 34, it hurts all the time,” he said. “It’ll hurt at practice. Everything hurts.”

Watching the 10-time Pro Bowl selection and future Hall of Famer perform the way he did yet again on the national stage, however, should take some of the sting out of the loss for Cardinals fans. The older this guy gets, the younger he seems to play.

Just go back to last season when at 33, he led the NFL in receptions with 107. With 13 on Monday night, including his acrobatic 15-yard touchdown grab on a post-corner route and his Gumby-like, one-handed grab downfield for a 37-yard gain, Fitzgerald’s well on his way to making a run at another reception crown.

“That’s Fitz. That’s Monday night. He’s a Monday player,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “It was a great performance by him. It’s a shame we couldn’t play better around him.”

Report Card: Cardinals receive less-than-stellar grades in loss

The Cardinals are just starting to really realize how much they’re missing stud running back David Johnson, who is sidelined indefinitely following wrist surgery after getting injured in the season opener at Detroit. Oh, they knew it was going to be tough sledding trying to replace him. But it’s becoming tougher to do with each passing week.

Arians hinted Andre Ellington might become the team’s fourth starting running back in four weeks when the 49ers visit this Sunday.

Maybe that’s why Carson Palmer worked the underneath routes with Fitzgerald as often as he did early in Monday night’s game. It seemed as if using Fitzgerald on short, manageable routes could replicate what Johnson gave the team with his power running game.

Arians said if anyone was replicating Johnson, it was Ellington as a pass receiver, not Fitzgerald. OK, but let’s just do the math. Fitzgerald was targeted 15 times and caught 13 balls for almost half of Palmer’s 325 yards. Ellington caught five passes for 59 yards.

“I think he would be anybody’s target of choice,” Palmer said of Fitzgerald, adding, “It’s ‘Monday Night Football.’ I expect him to play the same way next week against a 0-3 San Francisco team. He is extremely consistent day in, day out and week in, week out.”

Like the pro he is, of course, Fitzgerald thought he could have done more for his team on this particular night. He said he could have blocked a little better and didn’t get open enough on a few big third-down situations.

“I left a few plays out there,” he said.

No you didn’t, Larry. Now please, get some rest and heal up before the 49ers get here. You might have to do it all over again come Sunday.

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Reach McManaman at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac and listen to him live every Wednesday night between 7-9 on Fox Sports 910-AM on The Freaks with Kenny and Crash.