Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald makes the first of his two touchdown catches Sunday in St. Louis.
ST. LOUIS – It had been a long time – since November of 2011, in fact – since Larry Fitzgerald had made two touchdown catches in a game.
But Fitzgerald looked like the any-other-year-but-2012 Fitzgerald Sunday against the Rams, after he got a couple of touchdown throws from new quarterback Carson Palmer among his eight catches for 80 yards in Sunday's 27-24 loss. He wasn't the only receiver looking good either. Andre Roberts had eight catches for 97 yards while getting creamed time and again and still holding on to the ball. Michael Floyd pulled in an improbable 44-yard, one-armed reception in a four-catch, 82-yard game.
The idea of bringing in Palmer and coach Bruce Arians was to capitalize on a receiving corps that
should have been much more productive than they were last season. After one game, that's exactly what happened.
"With us three you never know who is going to have a big game," Roberts said. "Larry had two touchdowns, that's a big game. Mike had big catches. We all had big catches and in our offense, you never know who that guy is going to be."
Coach Bruce Arians praised Roberts but included all his top receivers. None of the trio could fully endorse the game after the inability to convert enough third downs in the fourth quarter. Fitzgerald was disappointed the Cardinals couldn't continue first-half success into the second half.
"We made a step in a positive direction," Floyd said. "You saw what we were capable of doing."
MATHIEU'S FIRST BIG PLAY "ALL-OUT HUSTLE"
The Cardinals wouldn't have had a chance late in the game had it not been for the first of what the Cards hope are many dynamic defensive plays from rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu.
Rams tight end Jared Cook – who had seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns – beat linebacker Karlos Dansby across the middle and then down the seam for what looked like was going to be a clear 55-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
But Mathieu sprinted after Cook and leaped at Cook from behind inside the 10-yard line, knocking the ball loose into the end zone, where Dansby jumped on it for a turnover.
"It was the same thing that was going through my head that goes through on every play," Mathieu said. "Try to make a game-changing play. We were in a two-deep and we knew the middle of the field was open. I saw he caught the ball with nobody in front of him. He didn't even look at me for a second. I just tried to get the ball."
Arians was impressed.
"It was one of the best plays I have ever seen at this level," Arians said. "It was all-out hustle."
DAN WILLIAMS WITH A NOSE FOR THE END ZONE
Nose tackle Dan Williams had never scored a touchdown in football, at any level – until Sunday.
With the Cardinals trailing, 13-10, linebacker Matt Shaughnessy came with pressure on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and deflected a pass deep inside St. Louis territory. The ball fluttered in the air and into the arms of Williams, who moved his 327 pounds into the end zone for an improbable touchdown.
"I just wanted to catch it and get into the end zone," Williams said. "We do that in practice, get tipped balls and try to run it back. I just tried to grab it. I knew I was close."
Rookie running back Andre Ellington, a sixth-round pick, made the team in part because he showed how he could pass block, and he made an impressive undercut of a Rams blitzer early in the game to give Palmer the time to loft the 44-yard bomb to Floyd.
He would have been an even bigger hero had he been able to come down with the pass thrown to him on third-and-2 with two minutes to go. He had beaten the linebacker up the field, but Palmer's throw missed him to the outside.
"It was a miscommunication," Ellington said. "It's something we work on a lot actually, but we just couldn't get on the same page. He was thinking he wanted me to adjust it but the rule is to stay high. Just bad communication."
Palmer blamed himself for the play.