Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro (right) celebrates with punter Drew Butler after Thursday's game-winning field goal against the Vikings.
Chandler Catanzaro never doubted he could handle a pressure kick in the NFL. It just took him a long time to get that chance.
The Cardinals' second-year kicker went the first 25 games of his career without an attempt at a game-winning field goal. That streak broke when he hit a 32-yarder to beat the Bengals on Nov. 22, and if hits for baseball players come in bunches, maybe game-winning kicks for football players do, too.
Catanzaro nailed his second in four games on Thursday night against the Vikings, splitting the uprights on a 47-yarder with 1:23 remaining for the 23-20 win.
"It definitely meant a great deal to me," Catanzaro said. "I knew that I could do it – I did it in college a couple times – but you've always got to prove yourself."
Catanzaro has the same routine on every field goal attempt, but said the context of pressure kicks does stick in the back of his mind. The key, he said, is "kick to make the kick, not to not miss the kick."
"You can't be too careful during the moment," Catanzaro said. "If you get too careful – guide it, decelerate when you're swinging – that can lead to some problems. It's important for me to trust my preparation, trust my practice and just cut it loose."
Catanzaro has missed three extra points this year at the new 33-yard distance, but is seventh in the NFL in field goal percentage at 92.6 percent (hitting 25-of-27 on the year). He has made 16 in a row and was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week Wednesday for the third time in his career after finishing 3-of-3 on field goals and 2-of-2 on extra points against the Vikings.
Catanzaro's two missed field goals this year came from 47 yards out against the Steelers in Week 6 and from 55 yards against the Ravens one week later. He had a pair of potentially costly missed extra points against the Ravens and 49ers, but the team was able to win both games.
"I really feel like I've hit it well all year," Catanzaro said. "I haven't had that many where I felt really bad about. I've had some games where I've missed maybe a kick or two, but I've really never felt bad about how I'm hitting it."
Coach Bruce Arians said the game-winning kicks have elevated his trust in Catanzaro.
"Those things you have to earn, and you build a résumé," Arians said. "There are still times to whether or not kick a 50-yarder or punt the ball on how your defense is playing, but I have the confidence in him in all three phases right now."
A JUMPSTART ON DEALING WITH THE PHILADELPHIA COLD
As the myriad long sleeves and hooded sweatshirts indicated, it was a cold day at practice on Wednesday. The Cardinals will play their lone East Coast game of December in Philadelphia on Sunday night, with temperature at kickoff expected to be around 40 degrees.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu said the recent Arizona cold spell is good practice.
"It's been, like, 30 to 40 degrees here, right?" Mathieu said. "I'm out of my element. I'm so cold when I wake up in the morning. It's just something we've got to deal with, something we've got to adjust to. It's all about our energy level, our intensity level. The weather shouldn't really play a factor."
The Cardinals avoided rain in Seattle on Nov. 15 in their most recent stop at a location with potentially inclement conditions. Arians doesn't expect the weather to have an effect this week, barring extreme circumstances.
"It was icy in Pittsburgh," Arians said. "It was cold up in Seattle and it was night. It's a Sunday night game. None of that matters unless there's a foot of snow in the ground. Then it affects the game."
PETERSON AMONG SIX CARDINALS WHO MISS PRACTICE
A half-dozen Cardinals sat out practice on Wednesday, including cornerback Patrick Peterson, who aggravated an ankle injury in the win over Minnesota. Arians didn't seem too concerned.
"We're just making sure that he's OK," Arians said.
The others who missed practice were safety Rashad Johnson (ankle), tight end Jermaine Gresham (knee), running back Andre Ellington (toe), center Lyle Sendlein (knee) and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (flu). Weatherspoon is expected back Thursday.
Cornerback Jerraud Powers (calf) and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (ankle) returned to practice in limited fashion after missing last week's game. Defensive tackle Cory Redding (ankle), wide receiver Brittan Golden (concussion) and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (ankle) were also limited.
For the Eagles, cornerback Byron Maxwell (ankle) did not practice, while wide receiver Jordan Matthews (back) was limited.
Images of Cardinals fans cheering on the team during their Week 14 win over the Vikings