Kicker Chandler Catanzaro celebrates with holder Drew Butler after his 46-yard field goal Thursday night, one of four field goals in a 12-6 win.
ST. LOUIS – Perhaps no player welcomed the quick turnaround of Thursday Night Football this week more than Chandler Catanzaro.
The Cardinals' rookie kicker had his first real bumpy outing as a professional on Sunday against the Chiefs, missing a pair of field goals from inside 40 yards to keep the game in doubt until the end. Even though the Cardinals won, Catanzaro was visibly upset
with his performance, and admitted Thursday this had been a "rough week."
He didn't have to stir for long, as Catanzaro was counted on often against the Rams, connecting on all four field goal attempts for the entirety of the Cardinals' scoring in a 12-6 win. The first one was easy, from 23 yards out, and he then followed it up with makes from 44, 51 and 46 yards.
The final one was particularly important, as it gave the Cardinals a two-possession lead with 10:48 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"I'm just glad I came through today," Catanzaro said. "I told myself, 'Don't fear failure.' I've got the fundamentals, got the tools, so just keep swinging. That's what I did. I just zoomed in on that target and banged them down the pipe. I'm really excited about this bounce-back right here."
Coach Bruce Arians never wavered in his belief of Catanzaro, and didn't hesitate to give him several shots at field goals in a game where points and field position were at a premium.
"He's a talented, talented young fella," Arians said. "He just had a bad day at the office last week."
OFFENSIVE LINE EXCELS ON ROAD
Arians has spoken of the communication issues offensive linemen face in road games, but his group wasn't affected by the noise on Thursday.
The running lanes which disappeared for a stretch during the middle of the season were clear for the second straight week, as the Cardinals gained a season-best 143 yards on 33 carries. Kerwynn Williams had 15 carries for 75 yards (5.0 per carry) and Stepfan Taylor added 14 rushes for 61 yards (4.4 per carry).
"Back-to-back weeks they've done big things," Williams said of the line. "They've opened some great holes for us and allowed us to be successful."
While Drew Stanton was forced from the game with a knee injury when he was sacked in the third quarter, it was the only sack given up all night. The Rams have one of the most ferocious pass-rushes in the NFL but were held at bay.
Left tackle Jared Veldheer even recovered a crucial fumble in Arizona territory in the fourth quarter.
"I thought the offensive line was outstanding," Arians said.
FITZ THE YOUNGEST EVER TO 900 CATCHES
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 900 career catches with a 16-yard grab in the
second quarter. Fitzgerald (31 years, 102 days) surpassed Andre Johnson, who was 32 years, 143 days when he reached 900.
"I'm glad to get it behind me so I can worry about the things that really matter," Fitzgerald said. "It's nice to be able to accomplish that in 11 years. I'm glad we got to do it in a win."
Fitzgerald finished the contest with seven receptions for 30 yards. He also passed Hines Ward for 22nd on the NFL's all-time receiving list.
RUCKER WITH ANOTHER BIG NIGHT
Defensive tackle Frostee Rucker followed up Sunday's two-sack performance with another impressive day. He forced a fumble of Rams running back Tre Mason to set up the Cardinals' initial field goal, and then added a sack of Rams quarterback Shaun Hill late in the third quarter.
Rucker drew an offensive holding call on the play and still made his way to Hill for the 13-yard loss. He has five sacks on the season, which is a career-high.
"It's just a little opportunity and making a play," Rucker said. "Guys are where they're supposed to be and that's how the defense works."