Deone Bucannon has experienced many thrilling moments at State Farm Stadium in his five seasons with the Cardinals.
His favorite was Larry Fitzgerald's overtime heroics against the Packers that sent the Cardinals to the NFC Championship game after the 2015 season. Bucannon still vividly recalls the hysteria in the crowd during the "Hail Larry" and the subsequent shovel pass touchdown.
"It was nuts," Bucannon said. "I remember everything about it. And the fact that it was Larry, it couldn't have been written any better."
Those signature moments have almost completely eluded the Cardinals in 2018, as they have only one victory in seven home games. Every other team in the league has at least two victories at home this season, and more than once this year, coach Steve Wilks has spoken sullenly postgame about letting the fans down.
The Cardinals have a tough home finale on Sunday when they host the Rams. Los Angeles is battling for a first-round playoff bye and will have sufficient motivation. The Cardinals aren't making the postseason, but would at least like to give their fanbase some holiday cheer with an upset win amidst a rough season.
"It would mean a lot for me, it would mean a lot for the fans, and those players in that locker room," coach Steve Wilks said. "We want to do everything we can. We've got great fans, and we want to go out and perform well in front of them."
Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen will try to bounce back from a rough outing in Atlanta. The Cardinals have backups across the offensive line and must somehow figure out how to slow down defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
The Rams' defense dominated the Cardinals in a 34-0 win in Week 2. Veteran Sam Bradford was the quarterback then, but Rosen's challenge will be just as stiff.
Running back David Johnson hopes to get untracked on the ground so Los Angeles can't set its entire sights on Rosen. Johnson had only 33 rushing yards last week and needs 157 in the final two games to reach 1,000 on the year.
He is hoping to churn out first downs to keep the offense on the field. Johnson said the defense has been put in bad position too often in 2018.
"It hits home," Johnson said. "It makes me feel like I'm not doing enough."
While the offense didn't do it any favors, the defense was also culpable in Sunday's loss to the Falcons, allowing 215 rushing yards and 8.0 yards per carry. Rams running back Todd Gurley might not play due to a knee injury, but defensive tackle Corey Peters is more worried about his teammates than who Los Angeles rolls out on offense.
"When things get tough, I feel like a lot of people, myself included, get to looking around and kind of see (if anyone is slacking)," Peters said. "In this game, the last thing I want to do is lose the respect of my peers because I quit on them or gave up on them. When things get tough, that's really the time to put the foot on the gas."
Some fans have let their distaste known during multiple home games this season. If Sunday is another blowout loss, they very well could return. Bucannon is hoping instead that the Cardinals can conjure up the past success and give the crowd some excitement.
"Arizona, they've got the best fans in the world," Bucannon said. "It's what they deserve."
Images of key players for this week's opponent, the Los Angeles Rams