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Peterson To The House -- Again

Posted Nov 27, 2011

Notebook: Rookie ties NFL record for punt returns; Acho shines vs. Rams

Rookie Patrick Peterson returns a punt 80 yards during Sunday's win in St. Louis, tying an NFL record with four scoring punt returns in a season.

An hour or so before Sunday’s game prior to warmups, Patrick Peterson took a couple of minutes to talk to Rams punter Donnie Jones.

Like Peterson, Jones attended Louisiana State University, a kinship that carries through despite Peterson playing at LSU long after Jones left. Jones kicking to Peterson was a topic, and it would have been hard to believe it wouldn't have been.

It’s also hard to believe Jones ended up punting to Peterson once the game started.

Peterson admitted he was surprised Jones did, after Peterson took back his NFL-record-tying fourth punt back for a touchdown during the 23-20 Cardinals’ win, an 80-yarder that was actually the shortest of Peterson’s four TDs this season.

“I told the guys to be patient, that we’d get one sooner or later,” Peterson said, noting that it was “amazing” to be in the NFL record books. “I knew I was scoring. Once I saw the middle of the field wide-open and I saw Donnie down, I knew I was getting in the end zone.”

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said the ball was supposed to be kicked away from Peterson – Jones said he hit it wrong – yet Peterson almost dropped it. Trying to steal a second glance at the coverage as the ball came down, Peterson barely grabbed the ball with his fingertips.

“When I looked up again it was dropping pretty fast and I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ ” Peterson said. “I had to get on my high horse and hurry up and get to the ball.”

Not only did Peterson tie the NFL record but he broke the franchise record for punt return touchdowns in a career already – and he’s played just 11 games. He also snapped Vai Sikahema’s record for punt return yards in a season. Peterson already has 558 this year, bettering Sikahema’s 550 in 1987.

Peterson is averaging 18.0 yards a return this year, on 31 returns, and now, touchdowns are almost expected.

“If they kick the (expletive) to him, why not,” said cornerback Richard Marshall, who came up with a key block on the return. “Pat P is the man. There’s nothing else to be said. We know if we hold up, he’ll have a chance.”

ACHO GRANDE

Rookie linebacker Sam Acho continues to play better. He had two more sacks Sunday, his fourth and fifth of the season to tie Calais Campbell for the team lead, and also forced and receovered fumbles.

Acho, loathe to talk about himself, said his improvement “has been an ongoing process. I’ve been learning from the veterans.”

Whisenhunt, though knows his fourth-round pick has a lot to do with it.

“You brought him along the right way,” Whisenhunt said. “You didn’t throw him in there early, you got him some reps and he earned his way on special teams. It doesn’t take very long when you are around Sam to figure out how smart he is and how detail-oriented he is, which is critical in this defense. He makes plays, and he’s got athletic ability. But he makes plays because he understands where he needs to be and what he needs to do.”

KOLB SITS ONE MORE TIME

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said quarterback Kevin Kolb just didn’t have enough preparation time to be able to start Sunday, but he gave serious consideration to making Kolb the backup and letting him play some during the game. Instead, Kolb was named as an inactive when it was decided it would be difficult for Kolb to warm up his bad toe and foot and then stand around for a while before coming in and trying to play on turf.

“It’s tough to get that thing warmed up and ready to go,” Whisenhunt said. “That was the biggest concern today. I anticipate that won’t be an issue this week.”

BEANIE’S FINAL RUN

Running back Beanie Wells was tied with LaShon Johnson with 214 yards after the Cardinals got their final first down, but instead of just taking a knee with the lead at three points, Whisenhunt went ahead with a handoff – Wells ran for 14 yards – so his back could own the record.

“It was a risk,” Whisenhunt acknowledged. “But if you look at the way we have run the ball -- or not run the ball as we should have over the years -- when you have an opportunity to do that I felt you do that. Not only for Beanie but for the offensive line too. We told Beanie to hold on to it. We were just trying to get one yard.”

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