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Fitzgerald Finally Reaches 100

Posted Dec 23, 2012

Notebook: Wilson, Bethel team for TD; Zastudil breaks NFL record

Larry Fitzgerald (11) hauls in one of his eight receptions Sunday in a loss to Chicago.

It didn’t matter who was throwing to Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday, the chemistry was there.

He lined up alongside two quarterbacks for the fifth game this season and found a rhythm that produced more than 100 receiving yards for the first time in exactly three months.

Fitzgerald finished Sunday’s 28-13 loss to the Chicago Bears at University of Phoenix Stadium with 111 yards – 61 from Ryan Lindley and 50 from Brian Hoyer. It was the first time since Sept. 23 against Philadelphia he broke the century mark. But Fitzgerald, who had only 89 yards in his last five games combined, downplayed the mark because of the loss.

“It’s been a long season and whatever I can (do) to make a play or make an impact, I try to do it,” Fitzgerald said. “Today, some things opened up here and I made some plays but it didn’t equate to a win so it’s all for nothing.”

Lindley, who started but was pulled less than three minutes into the second half, said the Bears gave the Cardinals an opportunity to look for Fitzgerald.

“They were playing Cover 2 a lot and just leaving windows for him open,” said Lindley, who found Fitzgerald for 17 and 18 yards late in the first quarter. “You just try to get the defense down and put one in there for him.”

Hoyer, who was signed on Dec. 10, said it didn’t take long to get on the same page as Fitzgerald. Hoyer didn’t look Fitzgerald’s direction until their second drive together, but when he did, he hit the Pro Bowl receiver for a 24-yard gain on first-and-15.

“It’s hard not to have chemistry with him,” Hoyer said. “He’s a great receiver and you just don’t want to force it to him, though. When you get the opportunities, you try to take them.”

ROOKIE, VET TEAM FOR BLOCK AND TOUCHDOWN

Safety Justin Bethel was a hand away from blocking the first kick of his career but he made up for it moments later. Safety Adrian Wilson came off the left edge to block a 20-yard field goal attempt by Bears’ kicker Olindo Mare late in the fourth quarter, and the Bethel returned it 82 yards for his first career touchdown.

“It feels good,” Bethel said. “I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. I’m still trying to block me one but I’ll take the touchdown.

“One of us was going to get it. It happened to be him. If he would’ve picked up the ball I would’ve made a block for him.”

It was Wilson’s first blocked field goal since Sept. 12, 2010 at St. Louis. For Bethel, who made the Cardinals roster because of his proficiency blocking kicks during the preseason and in college, it was his first significant special teams play of the season.

“Defensively, we’ve never given up,” Wilson said. “Everybody keeps talking about the Seattle debacle. We never really gave up. Every guy on defense is going fight to the last tick.”

ZASTUDIL SETS NFL RECORD

Punter Dave Zastudil set a new single-season NFL record Sunday with his 44th punt downed inside the 20-yard-line.

He tied the old mark of 42 with 1:54 left in the third quarter on a 49-yard boot that was downed at the Bears 1. He broke the record early in the fourth quarter with a 33-yard punt to the Bears 7 and extended it on the Cardinals’ next drive when Devin Hester was tackled at the Bears 8.

“If you’re backed up and you’re punting inside the 50, you just try to do your job,” Zastudil said. “Stats like that, inside the 20, just come with it. Yeah, it’s a cool honor but I’m not happy we didn’t win the game.”

Zastudil entered the game with 38 punts downed inside the 20 and was on pace to finish the season with 44. Earlier Sunday, Kansas City punter Dustin Colquitt tied San Francisco’s Andy Lee, the Giants’ Steve Weatherford and former Cardinal Ben Graham with his 42nd, only to have Zastudil kick past all of them later a few hours later.

“We’ve been playing football in the NFL for 90 years and to do something no one else has done – obviously we’re disappointed in the season and the losses that we’ve had – you have to give him credit for what he’s accomplished,” kicker Jay Feely said. “That’s phenomenal. He’s got a chance next week to put a lot of distance in there, to make it untouchable hopefully.”

TILLMAN FOILS FAKE FIELD GOAL

Bears cornerback Charles Tillman hit Feely just enough on the Cardinals’ fake field goal attempt with 9:42 left in the second quarter to disrupt the play, Feely said after Sunday’s game. The play called for Feely to roll left and hit tight end Jim Dray, who was open on the play. But Tillman got to Feely and forced the kicker to attempt to outrun the Bears’ defense. He fumbled the football out of bounds.

“We thought we could catch them where they were going to come hard,” Feely said. “Tillman’s just a great player and he did a good job of recognizing that and coming off and getting a bump on me enough to slow it down and throw the whole rhythm of the play off.”

Whisenhunt said it was an effort to get a spark for the offense.

“Had it gone right, I think Jay would have been able to get it off,” Whisenhunt said.

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