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Block Earns Justin Bethel NFC Award

Cardinals win their fourth NFC weekly award halfway though the season


Justin Bethel blocks a field goal against the Cowboys Sunday.

It started in college, when Justin Bethel was credited with nine total blocked kicks even though he said he really had 13. That's what happens when, for instance, one of your blocks still makes it through the uprights.

Now, the Pro Bowl special teamer has three blocks in his NFL career, specializing in coming off the edge – like he did in Dallas

this past weekend, a play that helped earn Bethel the NFC special teams player of the week.

"If you watch me in practice, I practice like that," Bethel said. "Every time we do field goal I'm coming full speed. I'm going to get as close as I can to the line, get the best start I can to actually try and block it. I try to treat it like I'm actually going to go block it, and I've been doing that for forever.

"You do something repeatedly like that, when the time comes to actually do it, you're ready for it. You can do it full speed and you know what to expect."

Bethel's block came on the final play of the first half, preserving a four-point lead at the time. It was the 18th blocked field goal for the Cardinals since 2008, the highest total in the league during that span.

Blocking field goals isn't Bethel's only special-teams ability. After a team-leading 21 special-teams tackles last year, Bethel has eight this year. He said he's even getting more single coverage as a gunner this year, somewhat surprising after his Pro Bowl season of 2013.

Bethel  is the third Cardinal to win special teams player of the week already this season, joining punt returner Ted Ginn in Week 2 and kicker Chandler Catanzaro in Week 6. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald won NFC offensive player of the week last week.

"(Justin) has an unbelievable knack for turning the edge of that corner and then getting down low enough to explode and block it," coach Bruce Arians said. "You can't say enough because every kicker you go against knows he's over there. He may not block some, but he's going to force some to miss, too.

"For JB, it's like that's what we expect from him now. That's why you get to go to the Pro Bowl."

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