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Cardinals Finally Turn To A.J. Green And He Delivers

Veteran wide receiver, after little work of late, scores touchdown

Cardinals wide receiver A.J. Green made his first touchdown catch of the season in the win over the Rams on Sunday.
Cardinals wide receiver A.J. Green made his first touchdown catch of the season in the win over the Rams on Sunday.

LOS ANGELES -- Colt McCoy believed in A.J. Green on a key fourth-down, and again on a key throw into the end zone.

And after Sunday's 27-17 win over the Rams, the Cardinals quarterback made sure everyone understood why.

"Listen -- I love A.J. Green," McCoy said. "He's faced adversity this year and he's responded like a true pro. You talk about pros, A.J. Green is a pro. I trust him, I know the team trusts him, I know the coaches trust him. I'm thankful he was able to make some plays and I knew he would."

DeAndre Hopkins (10 catches for 98 yards) and Rondale Moore (9-94) had the shiny stats. But Green made the most of his two targets. The first provided four yards on an impressive fourth-down catch when the Cardinals needed three on their opening drive. The second was a six-yard touchdown – Green's first score of the season – on a jump ball right before halftime to give the Cardinals a commanding 17-3 lead.

Considering Green had a total of one offensive snap combined in two of the Cardinals' previous three games, such plays were unexpected. Since Robbie Anderson arrived in trade, it was Green's opportunity that faded.

But there he was Sunday, making a difference when the Cardinals needed him.

"It's very difficult," the soft-spoken Green said. "I've been the guy for the last decade. It's hard to come off the field. But I understand my role. I know what I can still do, I know I can still play at a high level. Sometimes you can't control it. You just have to be ready."

Anderson was not targeted against the Rams. Coach Kliff Kingsbury said "I am a huge A.J. fan" and that he would try and get Green more involved going forward.

Eventually, Hollywood Brown will return and team with Hopkins and Moore as the top three receivers. But with tight end Zach Ertz hurt, Green's importance could grow.

"We all have that tough conversation sometimes," Green said. "I just want you to be honest with me and that's what they did – they have been very honest with me through this whole process."

He is an option, one with experience. McCoy said the play that scored the touchdown was designed to go to Hopkins on the front side. Then he saw Green's matchup.

"It's like the grocery store line," McCoy said. "There's more people over there, let's throw it over here."

It was Green who had the clutch two-point catch with no time left in the Las Vegas game, getting it to overtime when the Cardinals finally won. But mostly, Green has had to handle a diminished role while posting by far the lowest numbers of his career – now 12 catches for 66 yards through 10 games.

"He has not blinked through everything, through the adversity, through the things going on," Kingsbury said.

The Cardinals may need him again.

"I've been in this league a long time, seen a lot of stuff," Green said. "For me, I've always been a guy who stayed level whatever happened. I know I put the work in each and every day and I'm always satisfied with whatever the outcome is because I know the work I've put in."