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Floyd Breaks Out In Finale

Posted Dec 30, 2012

Notebook: Zastudil holds on to NFL record; Kelemete gets first action

Wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) is congratulated after his touchdown catch Sunday by Larry Fitzgerald (11) and Senio Kelemete (64).

SAN FRANCISCO – Brian Hoyer took a few steps to his right, waited a couple of seconds and heaved a pass toward the end zone.

It wasn’t quite a Hail Mary and even though the outcome was already decided, everyone on the Cardinals’ sideline was praying for a touchdown. Thirty-seven yards away, Michael Floyd stopped short, lost his defender for a split-second and turned around just in time for Hoyer’s pass to land safely in his hands. It was the Cardinals’ only touchdown in their 27-13 loss at Candlestick Park on Sunday, but it was the perfect ending to Floyd’s rookie season.

He finished the year with a career-high 166 yards on eight receptions. He was targeted 14 times by Hoyer, more than twice as much as any other receiver.

It wasn’t by design, at least by the Cardinals.

“They just started taking Larry (Fitzgerald) away and I know that’s frustrating for him but it’s a great opportunity for Mike,” Hoyer said. “When they play a corner and a safety over the top of Larry, it kind of eliminates him.”

After watching the video of the Cardinals’ first meeting against San Francisco, Hoyer knew Floyd would be open. It didn’t take Hoyer, who was making his first career start, long to get the rookie receiver involved. He went to Floyd on the Cardinals’ first three plays.

Floyd was able to reflect on his season briefly in the Cardinals’ locker room.

“I’m progressing as the weeks go on,” Floyd said. “I’m a lot better. Being a rookie was tough. Week in, week out I was making the plays I needed to make and I got better.”

In his first 100-yard game, Floyd showed why the Cardinals chose him in the first round. He used his body to make catches of 53, 37 and 34 yards.

The only blemish on his stat line Sunday was a fumble after a catch in the fourth quarter.

“Michael’s accounted himself well,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Don’t like the fumble at that point in the game. That’s something he’s got to learn from, but he’s a big physical guy that catches the ball down the field. He’s got a good future.”

ZASTUDIL HOLDS ON TO NFL RECORD

Punter Dave Zastudil held off Kansas City’s Dustin Colquitt to earn a spot in the NFL record books Sunday afternoon. With two punts downed inside the 20-yard-line, Zastudil finished with 46 for the season, the most in NFL history. Colquitt, who came into Sunday with 42, had three punts downed inside the 20 against the Denver Broncos.

“Now that it’s official, it feels good,” Zastudil said. “Records like that are a great accomplishment. Thinking about it, you can’t take it for granted.”

Zastudil said he didn’t think about the record very much this week, but knew he was two ahead of Colquitt after last weekend. The 11-year punter deflected much of the praise to his gunners and offensive line, but his teammates, kicker Jay Feely and Mike Leach, who snapped to Zastudil on all 46 record-breaking punts, wouldn’t let him celebrate in peace following the game.

“I’m humbled to be among some great punters,” Zastudil said.

KELEMETE CATCHES FIRST ACTION

Injuries were the reason Senio Kelemete was active for the first time all season. And an injury gave the rookie guard his first playing time. Kelemete replaced Pat McQuistan, who left the game about midway through the first quarter with a left ankle injury.

“I really didn’t think they were going to put me in but they put me in there,” Kelemete said.

His self-assessment was simple: he needs to work on his pass blocking. But Kelemete had a game he may never forget, or repeat for that matter.

In the second quarter Kelemete caught a Hoyer pass intended for Andre Roberts that was tipped near the line of scrimmage. He outmuscled Niners nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga to snag the pass out of midair and turned it into a 10-yard gain.

“I really didn’t think I was actually going to catch it,” Kelemete said. “I though Isaac Sopoaga was at least going to bat it down. I came up with it and I was like, ‘Well, I guess I can go forward with it.’ I wasn’t really thinking I was going to catch that ball.”

POWELL GETS START

William Powell shouldered the rushing load for the Cardinals. With Beanie Wells active but on the sidelines for the entire game, Powell started and rushed for 52 yards on 14 carries.

He started hot, totaling 38 yards in the first quarter on the heels of two nine-yard runs.

“Coach said he wanted us to start fast, so the line did a great job of creating seams against a great defense,” Powell said. “We just wanted to come out fast and start fast and get the running game going so we could create for the pass.”

Powell didn’t know Wells’ status until he was given the start. And after the first series, Powell was prepared to continue playing but expected Wells to enter the game. He never did.

“I just felt we were mixing so much sub-packages against these guys today,” Whisenhunt said. “Beanie hasn’t been as big of a part of that particular part of our offense. The way Willie was running it early, we felt like we was going at a good clip and we wanted to stay with that.”

Wells, who missed eight weeks this season while recovering from turf toe, said last week he believed his days with the Cardinals were coming to an end. After the game, Wells said he and his family like Arizona.

“I mean, it’s just the way of the world,” Wells said. “You think things happen. Some of those things that happen are not in your control. You can only control what you can control. What I can control is my preparation and getting ready.”

CRABTREE BESTS PETERSON

Patrick Peterson’s reward for being named to the Pro Bowl earlier this week was facing off against a division nemesis. He was given the enviable task of defending 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree and on Sunday Crabtree bested Peterson.

Crabtree had a career-high 172 yards on eight receptions and added two touchdowns.

“You have to say he is a good player, but Patrick hasn’t played very well against him either,” Whisenhunt said. “It seems that we can’t tackle that guy.”

Peterson end up leaving the game with a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter.


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