"I wish he'd have been here 11 years from the beginning," Fitzgerald told reporters after Sunday's win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "I'd have a Super Bowl ring already. But having him here, his leadership, his demeanor in the huddle, I think it's reinvigorating everybody."
Peterson, 32, rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns in his Cardinals debut after he was traded by the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday. He'd struggled in limited action across four games with New Orleans.
"I've never lost focus," Peterson said, per Darren Urban of the team site. "I've always understood what God has blessed me with. Being able to come here and have the opportunity to display it, it was satisfying. It felt good."
The Cardinals are 3-3 and should have a more balanced attack moving forward. They entered Week 6 with the lowest yards per rushing attempt average (2.6) and fewest yards on the ground (259) in the league. Starting running back David Johnson broke his wrist in a Week 1 loss to the Detroit Lions, and the Cardinals struggled to find a replacement on their depth chart.
"You could feel it with the first drive," Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said. "You could feel it with the fans in the stadium. You could see it on the defense's faces. Body language-wise, it was just a great lift for us."
Fitzgerald and Peterson are two of the greatest players in the history of the league at their respective positions—and arguably the best of their generation. Peterson spent most of his career toiling on mediocre teams in Minnesota, while Fitzgerald's Arizona teams have experienced highs (reaching the Super Bowl) and lows (four 5-11 seasons).
The Cardinals could have selected Peterson with the No. 5 overall pick in 2007 but chose tackle Levi Brown instead. At the time, Arizona was using veteran Edgerrin James as its primary running back.
It's hard to argue that the Cardinals would have been annual contenders if Fitzgerald had played with Peterson in their primes.