• Cardinals vs Cowboys on Monday Night Football

    Cardinals vs Cowboys on Monday Night Football

  • Arizona Cardinals Harold Goodwin and James Bettcher on prep for Cowboys

    Arizona Cardinals Harold Goodwin and James Bettcher on prep for Cowboys

  • Somers, McManaman report on Wednesday's practice

    Somers, McManaman report on Wednesday’s practice

  • David Johnson speaks for first time since injury

    David Johnson speaks for first time since injury

  • Cowboys are coming: don’t sell your tickets!

    Cowboys are coming: don’t sell your tickets!

  • azcentral sports' Kent Somers and Bob McManaman discuss Cardinals victory over Colts

    azcentral sports’ Kent Somers and Bob McManaman discuss Cardinals victory over Colts

  • Bruce Arians discusses his thoughts about Colts, Cowboys

    Bruce Arians discusses his thoughts about Colts, Cowboys

  • Kent Somers, Dan Bickley discuss Cardinals' win

    Kent Somers, Dan Bickley discuss Cardinals’ win

  • Shot Clock: Cards (eye) roll; ASU's 'real' player

    Shot Clock: Cards (eye) roll; ASU’s ‘real’ player

  • Cardinals game vs. Colts preview with Kent Somers and Dan Bickley

    Cardinals game vs. Colts preview with Kent Somers and Dan Bickley

  • Somers and McManaman on the state of the Cardinals

    Somers and McManaman on the state of the Cardinals

  • Arizona Cardinals running back D. J. Foster talks after Wednesday practice in Tempe.

    Arizona Cardinals running back D. J. Foster talks after Wednesday practice in Tempe.

  • CJ2K mad at Cards; Palmer needs to get right

    CJ2K mad at Cards; Palmer needs to get right

  • azcentral sports' Kent Somers and Bob McManaman discuss Cardinals practcie Wednesday

    azcentral sports’ Kent Somers and Bob McManaman discuss Cardinals practcie Wednesday

  • Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer talks after Wednesday practice in Tempe.

    Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer talks after Wednesday practice in Tempe.

  • Shot Clock: Could the Cards recruit death stare Adrian Peterson?

    Shot Clock: Could the Cards recruit death stare Adrian Peterson?

  • David Johnson seeking a second opinion on wrist injury

    David Johnson seeking a second opinion on wrist injury

  • Bruce Arians discusses loss to Lions

    Bruce Arians discusses loss to Lions

  • Bickley and Somers on Cardinals' season-opening loss

    Bickley and Somers on Cardinals’ season-opening loss

  • Kent Somers and Bob McManaman on David Johnson's injury

    Kent Somers and Bob McManaman on David Johnson’s injury

  • Cardinals vs. Lions: Kent Somers and Dan Bickley preview the game

    Cardinals vs. Lions: Kent Somers and Dan Bickley preview the game

  • Bob McManaman wraps up Cardinals practice on Friday

    Bob McManaman wraps up Cardinals practice on Friday

  • Shot Clock: Chiefs-Patriots lessons for Cardinals

    Shot Clock: Chiefs-Patriots lessons for Cardinals

  • Arizona Cardinals report: Thursday's practice

    Arizona Cardinals report: Thursday’s practice

  • Shot Clock: Cards a slim pick, what are the keys?

    Shot Clock: Cards a slim pick, what are the keys?

  • Cardinals report: How will Bucannon's absence affect team?

    Cardinals report: How will Bucannon’s absence affect team?

  • Shot Clock: Detroit Lions, Super Bowl champions?

    Shot Clock: Detroit Lions, Super Bowl champions?

  • Reaction to Cardinals' move at punter

    Reaction to Cardinals’ move at punter

  • Somers wraps up the Cardinals' preseason finale

    Somers wraps up the Cardinals’ preseason finale

  • Cardinals vs Broncos preview

    Cardinals vs Broncos preview

  • Somers and McManaman wrap up Cardinals' Tuesday practice

    Somers and McManaman wrap up Cardinals’ Tuesday practice

  • Shot Clock: CJ2K stays?; Drown out LA fans

    Shot Clock: CJ2K stays?; Drown out LA fans

  • Sights and sounds from 9th Annual Fitz's Supper Club

    Sights and sounds from 9th Annual Fitz’s Supper Club

  • Arizona Cardinals break camp

    Arizona Cardinals break camp

  • McLellan and McManaman wrap up Cardinals practice

    McLellan and McManaman wrap up Cardinals practice

  • Somers on Cardinals vs. Falcons

    Somers on Cardinals vs. Falcons

  • Cardinals treating final preseason game seriously

    Cardinals treating final preseason game seriously

  • Kent and Bob talk Cardinals game planning and remaining preseason games

    Kent and Bob talk Cardinals game planning and remaining preseason games

  • Bickley and Moore: Cardinals looked 'sluggish'

    Bickley and Moore: Cardinals looked ‘sluggish’

  • Shot Clock: Cards' Palmer, 'D' gotta get better

    Shot Clock: Cards’ Palmer, ‘D’ gotta get better

  • Kent and Bob break down Cards' preseason loss to Bears

    Kent and Bob break down Cards’ preseason loss to Bears

  • Somers, McManaman on the Cardinals' 'boring' camp

    Somers, McManaman on the Cardinals’ ‘boring’ camp

  • Somers, McManaman on Arians' anger, receiving issues

    Somers, McManaman on Arians’ anger, receiving issues

  • Shot Clock: Cards WRs stink; anthem issue solved

    Shot Clock: Cards WRs stink; anthem issue solved

  • Insider: Was Arians' criticism truth or motivational chatter?

    Insider: Was Arians’ criticism truth or motivational chatter?

  • Shot Clock: Stanton stands out for Cardinals

    Shot Clock: Stanton stands out for Cardinals

  • Shot Clock: Cardinals protecting QB Palmer?

    Shot Clock: Cardinals protecting QB Palmer?

  • Greg Moore and Bruce Arians talk charities

    Greg Moore and Bruce Arians talk charities

  • Gabbert's big chance, special team auditions

    Gabbert’s big chance, special team auditions

  • Shot Clock: Arians changes tone with Cardinals

    Shot Clock: Arians changes tone with Cardinals

  • Greg Moore and Bob McManaman break down the Red-White practice

    Greg Moore and Bob McManaman break down the Red-White practice

  • Somers, McManaman on Gruden possibility, CB battle

    Somers, McManaman on Gruden possibility, CB battle

  • Shot Clock: Early hiccups for Cardinals

    Shot Clock: Early hiccups for Cardinals

  • Moore, McManaman wrap up opening day at Cardinals training camp

    Moore, McManaman wrap up opening day at Cardinals training camp

  • David Johnson's work load; D-Backs' head games

    David Johnson’s work load; D-Backs’ head games

  • Shot Clock: Cards kick off fan-friendly camp

    Shot Clock: Cards kick off fan-friendly camp

  • Somers sits down with Cardinals rookie Budda Baker

    Somers sits down with Cardinals rookie Budda Baker

  • Shot Clock: Blaine Gabbert a keeper for Cardinals?

    Shot Clock: Blaine Gabbert a keeper for Cardinals?

  • Kent and Bob talk new NFL rules and wide out depth

    Kent and Bob talk new NFL rules and wide out depth

  • Arians Family Foundation Fundraiser at Top Golf

    Arians Family Foundation Fundraiser at Top Golf

  • Report card on Cardinals QB Blaine Gabbert

    Report card on Cardinals QB Blaine Gabbert

  • David Johnson No. 1 on NFL Players Association list

    David Johnson No. 1 on NFL Players Association list

  • Bruce Arians talks about his annual fundraisers

    Bruce Arians talks about his annual fundraisers

  • Keim, Arians striking gold in draft's third round

    Keim, Arians striking gold in draft’s third round

  • Top 3 games in Cardinals schedule

    Top 3 games in Cardinals schedule

  • Larry Fitzgerald holding 7th annual charity softball tournament

    Larry Fitzgerald holding 7th annual charity softball tournament

  • Larry Fitzgerald 1-on-1 with Kent Somers

    Larry Fitzgerald 1-on-1 with Kent Somers

As nice a guy that he is, Larry Fitzgerald wasn’t about to feel the least bit sorry for what happened to Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday in Denver, when “America’s Team” was annihilated by the Broncos 42-17.

“I would say they’re damn lucky,” said Fitzgerald, whose Cardinals (1-1) meet the Cowboys (1-1) on Monday night at University of Phoenix Stadium. “It took them 18 regular-season games to be humbled. I got my humble pie Week 2 of my rookie year – a big, big dose of it. Then it happened a few more times my rookie season.”

It was actually worse than that. Out of 12 passes thrown his way that particular day in 2004 by quarterback Josh McCown, Arizona’s future Hall of Fame wide receiver caught only five for a mere 36 yards and no touchdowns in a 23-13 loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots. Only once that year did Fitzgerald record more than five receptions in any game.

Still, as bad as that may have felt to Fitzgerald looking back as the perfectionist he has become, it wasn’t anywhere nearly so egregious as the backlash Elliott has received in recent days. The Cowboys’ second-year running back has been absolutely hammered for his lack of effort against Denver, specifically during two particular plays when he failed to react and respond following Dak Prescott interceptions.

RANKING TOP NFL RUNNING BACKS: Where is Elliott?

Elliott was already the target of NFL analysts after he chose not to pursue the Broncos’ Chris Harris Jr. on the first pick and he stopped, turned and put his hand on his hips during the second one, which Aqib Talib returned 103 yards for a demoralizing touchdown.

Just as bad in the public eye, Elliott was frequently shown during the television broadcast sitting by himself on the Dallas bench. He was rankled by getting stuffed for just eight yards on nine carries, careers lows in both categories.

It was the last thing the Cowboys needed, but it wouldn’t be the Cowboys without some sort of weekly drama, would it? As wildly popular as the symbolic Dallas star logo continues to be, it feels like its shining five points are always tipped with some type of poison.

Whether it’s owner Jerry Jones’ meddling and nonsensical rhetoric, needless in-house drama, repeated player substance-abuse violations and daily distractions such as Elliott’s pending, six-game suspension stemming from domestic-violence allegations, it never seems to end.

“Oftentimes when you play here, and we’re fortunate enough to come into this organization, you understand it’s ‘America’s Team,’ and there are high expectations and there’s a lot of noise and clutter that’s created with that,” Cowboys longtime tight end Jason Witten said on a conference call with Arizona reporters. “This organization has had a lot of success over the course of the franchise, and that’s the expectation. So, when you don’t meet that, of course there’s going to be noise with it.”

The “noise” reached a crescendo Sunday night during the NFL Network’s postgame show when studio hosts and NFL Hall of Famers LaDainian Tomlinson and Deion Sanders, a former Cowboys defensive back, both cracked down on Elliott. Mostly, it was Tomlinson, who flat-out said Elliott “quit” on his team out of selfishness.

MORE: Who has the edge on Monday night?

“He absolutely quit on his team today,” Tomlinson said, among other things, of the league’s 2016 rushing leader.

Sanders said Elliott should have gone directly to Prescott during the game and told the quarterback it was up to him to bail out the Cowboys, considering how the Broncos were stacking the box and making the running game nonexistent.

“But I don’t know if he’s mature enough at this point to do that,” Sanders said. “Especially with the (suspension) cloud over his head right now.”

During his conference call this week with Arizona reporters, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said “there were a lot of things in that ballgame that needed to be addressed and that was one of them.” Garrett, though, said he still has complete faith in Elliott as a “great competitor” and that the tailback proved his worth and reliability as a rookie when he led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards.

“One of the reasons we drafted Zeke Elliott is because he is one of the great competitors we’ve ever been around,” Garrett said. “His coaches at Ohio State stood on the table for him in that regard. Urban Meyer told us he’s the best player he’s ever had when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands. He’s demonstrated that to us over the course of the last year or so. That’s just who he is.

“So, to me, to address those two specific plays with him, and with anybody else, you’re honest, you’re very clear with what the expectations are, and you learn from them and move forward.”

To his credit, Elliott took full responsibility for his lackluster effort against the Broncos, telling Dallas reporters on Thursday, among other things: “It’s definitely not me. It’s definitely not the type of player I am. It’s definitely not who I am for this team.”

“I just can’t do that,” Elliott added. “I was frustrated. I wasn’t myself. … That’s no excuse for the lack of effort I showed on tape. I just can’t do that. Being one of the leaders on the team and being a guy that people count on, I can’t put that type of stuff on film.”

Prescott didn’t sound very concerned about Elliott’s perceived lack of hustle or commitment in Denver and seemed to put the blame on the media for making it into a story in the first place.

“I know who he is,” Prescott said. “I know the type of football player he is and the type of guy he is. I’ve never, and never will, question his competitiveness … so I don’t pay attention to what other people say.”

MORE: Arizona Cardinals Insiders Podcast

Witten said the veteran leaders will straighten everything out, eliminate “the clutter” and get the Cowboys to return to their “mindset of accountability and execution.” But considering Elliott’s six-suspension continues to hang over their heads on a daily basis, that can’t be easy.

“There are some different things that we can’t control in our own life, but we can control our response to it and what’s in front of us, the opportunity that we have,” Garrett said, when asked how the thought of losing Elliott for any length of time is affecting him. “That’s the mindset that I take. I think our coaching staff takes that and I believe our team takes that as well.”

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.

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions