He had just four catches for 43 yards – although he finally got another touchdown – and yet Larry Fitzgerald’s smile was wide, possibly the biggest he has sported since signing that contract extension in late August.
Fitz stood at the postgame press conference podium with that smile and said, “You have no idea how hard it has been coming up here six weeks in a row. It’s a great feeling to come out of here with a ‘W,’ with the passion and the way we did it.”
The tangible reason why no team would want to Suck For Luck? That was it Sunday at UoP. The bellowing from the team in the locker room that could be heard through the walls afterward sounded like what would happen after a playoff win, not a second win in eight games. On Sunday, it’s not about the record or the race. Those are things to be considered the other six days of the week. Sunday is about the win, and that feeling when you get that win – especially the way it happened Sunday – and nothing else.
— “We have rules,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It’s not just, ‘Go back there and catch whatever you can, wherever you want to catch it.” When the ball is inside the 10-yard line, I mean, that’s a hard and fast rule. Yet Patrick Peterson is averaging an NFL-best 21.8 yards a punt return, and has three punt return touchdowns in eight NFL games. I called him a prodigy last week in that aspect of the game, and then, Sunday.
— Here’s another punt-return rule: Once the gunners reach the 20-yard line, the guys blocking them – in this case on the final punt, A.J. Jefferson and Richard Marshall – are supposed to let them go. Peterson said he told them to hold on to the blocks. Jefferson actually did let his guy go at the 20, but Marshall – blocking on the right side, which is where Peterson went – stayed engaged. Marshall said it’s a lesson long learned.
“We know a couple times, we let them go inside the 20 and Patrick caught it and he could have made some yards and that was on us,” Marshall said. “Those are the rules, but we are going to stay on our man unless he gives us the ‘peter’ call (to get away as the ball bounces) because you never know. Sometimes he doesn’t catch it, and, (expletive), sometimes he catches it on the 1 like he did today.”
— I haven’t looked yet, but I know there are going to be plenty of Skelton-should-play-over-Kolb comments, or questions along those lines. I tried to make that point last week, and I will do it one more time: The Cardinals need to find out, over an entire season, what they have in Kevin Kolb. Kolb, if healthy, needs to play.
John Skelton played a decent game Sunday. He won, and he is 3-2 as a starter. All that is true. Kolb, in my opinion, still should play. I’m pretty sure that’s how the Cards will approach it. Feel free to argue why you feel otherwise. It feels sometimes that the Kolb vs. Skelton is like some of the most polarizing arguments we have in this country from the aspect that no one really is going to be swayed: Those who want Kolb out aren’t going to change their minds.
— One caveat on Skelton, with all due respect to the big guy, whom I’d really like to succeed: He has three wins in five tries as a starter. Some have said that’s all that matters. Perhaps. But in three wins, the defense has allowed a mere 13 points in two of them, and in the other – the Christmas Cowboys win – the defense provided two interception returns for touchdowns. My point? I think Skelton will do well with that kind of defense. I think Kolb would too.
— The defense was solid. They kept the Rams out of the end zone. They stuffed the Rams twice on short-yardage runs to stop the first potential game-winning field-goal drive, and it came up with the forced punt in overtime even though the Rams got the ball first.
— Lucky for Peterson for the field-goal block, because otherwise, his pass interference that gave the Rams a first down and set up that last attempt would have stung. Fox analyst Chad Pennington said it probably shouldn’t have been flagged (Peterson admitted he thought it was a bad call, although “I’m not going to criticize the referee”) but it was another example of Peterson drawing flags.
— That was an impressive interception by Peterson on the flea-flicker try early in the game. Peterson was beat, but his speed made up for it.
— Big, big day for Calais Campbell. He had the blocked field goal, a sack-and-a-half, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits.
— Think there is something to the chemistry between rookies that came in together? Andre Roberts had been invisible for a month. With Skelton starting, Roberts had five catches for 55 yards – one more reception than he had had in the previous four games combined.
— Marshall moved into the starting lineup Sunday, replacing A.J. Jefferson. Jefferson continues to play in nickel situations because Marshall is playing free safety, but Marshall is the official starter.
— Beanie Wells struggled quite a bit. Hopefully that was about issues in the run game and what the Rams were doing, and not so much that Wells couldn’t get going because of his sore knee.
— Tight end Todd Heap was active, but he did not play in the game. Apparently he was there for an emergency or a special package that wasn’t used. UPDATE: Apparently Heap did play, although I am not sure how many snaps. Couldn’t have been many. The official game summary said he did not, but that is a mistake.
There’s more to talk about, but that can come tomorrow. It’s always easy to ramble on and on after a win.
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Andre Roberts, Calais Campbell, John Skelton, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Rams, Richard Marshall, Todd Heap
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