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Dockett, Defense Rebounds

Posted Dec 5, 2010

Notebook: Effort not enough against Rams; Fitzgerald ties franchise record

Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett brings down Rams back Kenneth Darby for a loss Sunday.


Darnell Dockett walked to the sideline right before the final two-minute warning Sunday, exhausted and gasping for breath.

He took a swig of water from head athletic trainer Tom Reed’s bottle, and could have come out of the game. Time was ticking down, and the outcome – eventually a 19-6 Rams’ win – was decided. But Dockett, still battling a shoulder problem, went back in.

Dockett still isn’t healthy. He shook his head at such a suggestion afterward, but he played perhaps his best game of the season Sunday. The Cards’ defense played better than it had in a month. Yet Dockett didn’t really care to revel in anything positive.

“Our effort was better than it was last week,” Dockett said. “In the end, we didn’t play good enough. Anytime you play a game, you want to win. If you don’t win, you feel like you didn’t play good enough.”

Safety Kerry Rhodes had a sack and interception and defensive end Calais Campbell had a sack in his return from an ankle injury. Until the Rams’ lone touchdown drive – which ended when Campbell couldn’t make a tackle on Steve Jackson at the line of scrimmage, allowing Jackson to break off a 27-yard TD run – the Cards were still one big play from regaining the lead.

“It shows a lot about our team and our leaders on the way they showed up,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said of Dockett and the defense. “It’s not easy when you are where we are.”

Dockett said the Cards will stick together, because even if they were to turn on each other, “we won’t play any better.” And he wanted nothing to do with talk about the Cards’ rotating quarterbacks or struggling offense.

“There have been games where we weren’t able to stop people and there were games where (the offense) weren’t able to score,” Dockett said. “In the end, we are a team.”

FITZ TIES RECORD

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald needed just five catches to break Anquan Boldin’s franchise record for receptions. Instead, Fitzgerald got four, to tie Boldin’s 586. It looked like the record would fall easily Sunday, since Fitzgerald had three catches in the first quarter. But it was hard to get him the ball after that.

“The way we started, I was really happy (offensively),” Fitzgerald said. “We were able to throw the football, we had some nice runs by Tim (Hightower) and Beanie (Wells).  It would have been important for us to get that first touchdown.”

RUNNING WELL

Hightower, who has a history of doing well against the Rams, averaged 5.4 yards a carry Sunday, gaining 81 yards on 15 carries. Wells had just three carries, gaining 24 yards. Wells called breaking some runs “fun,” although Hightower acknowledged he was a little frustrated the duo didn’t get more opportunities.

“I just wanted to make something happen for my teammates,” Hightower said. “We have to trust the coaching out there just like they trust us to execute the game plan.”

SPECIAL ISSUES

The Cardinals had problems on special teams in the first half, including one sequence before the Rams’ first field goal. Josh Brown kicked a 40-yard field goal on fourth-and-2, but the Cards were flagged for too many men on the field. Three plays later, the Rams had to try a field goal again, and the Cards had to burn a time out because they weren’t sure who should be on the field.

Whisenhunt said the mixup was because of Campbell’s iffy injury status during the week and Alan Branch replacing him. Campbell took the blame.

“That was my fault,” Campbell said. “I should’ve told someone I was going in there. … I went in to make a play. I almost actually blocked that kick too, barely missed it. But I guess 12 men on the field makes it a little easier.”
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