Minnesotans Floyd, Fitzgerald help Arizona win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Larry Fitzgerald's legs wrapped around Michael Floyd in the back of the end zone on a leap that carried so much force that Floyd nearly fell over.

When Fitzgerald's feet returned to the turf, the two Cardinals wide receivers, both Minnesotans, smacked each other in jubilation.

On a night a banged-up Vikings secondary limited Fitzgerald to just 37 yards receiving, Floyd, a St. Paul native and 2008 Cretin-Derham Hall graduate, caught a team-high five passes for a game-high 102 yards -- a 42-yarder for a third-quarter touchdown the highlight that forced the Vikings to play from behind.

But it was Floyd's 22-yard reception with 3:29 left that helped lead the Cardinals to their game-winning 47-yard field goal with 1:23 remaining. That clinched for Arizona a playoff berth, thanks to a 23-20 win.

"We have big expectations this year," Floyd said.


Floyd admitted that Thursday night's game, a nationally televised contest against his home-state team, carried special importance.

More than 30 family members and friends were in attendance, he said, most from Minnesota and a few from Chicago.

Floyd's strong game continued his second half breakout, the fourth time in the past five games he has recorded at least 100 receiving yards.

With mentoring from Fitzgerald, Floyd has put a tough beginning to the season behind him. After averaging 30 yards per game his first seven games, Floyd has averaged 88 receiving yards his past five.

About his third-quarter touchdown, which gave the Cardinals a 17-10 lead, Floyd admitted he and Fitzgerald mistakenly ran the same route -- Floyd eventually catching the pass that was intended for Fitzgerald.

But without hesitation, Minneapolis native Fitzgerald blocked downfield for Floyd, eventually pancaking Vikings safety Anthony Harris to the turf, which sprung Floyd down the sideline for the touchdown.

"It was a little bit messed up," Floyd said with a laugh. "But we made it happen."

Earlier this week, with local media here interested in two of Arizona's wide receivers hailing from Minnesota, Floyd chided his veteran teammate for a perceived lack of competition during his days at Holy Angels.


"I had to," said Floyd, a two-time Minnesota prep player of the year. "I mean he played at (Class) 2A. But that was high school, and we all ended where we wanted to, so it's all good."

Where they have ended is on an 11-2 Cardinals team poised for a deep playoff run-- one that could begin with a first-round bye.

In an attempt to pick on a depleted Vikings secondary, the Cardinals targeted Floyd nine times, more than any other player.

His 42-yard catch and run was the biggest difference maker, sprung because Fitzgerald flattened Harris.

"We've got to get those guys on the ground," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "Those things were not good."

After Fitzgerald made the key block, Floyd said, "I was just looking for the end zone."

He found it, his sixth trip to pay dirt in seven games.

"I scored and looked right to (Fitzgerald)," Floyd said. "Without him, that play doesn't happen. He made an exceptional block. I was a lot more happy for the block than the touchdown."


Floyd said he still gets back to St. Paul, "depending on how cold it is," admitting he's gotten adjusted to the warm climate in the Southwest. In the summer, he said, he enjoys boating on Lake Minnetonka.

But on Thursday, the 26-year-old was even more happy to beat Minnesota, thrilled to be a part of a Cardinals receiving corp that continues to impress.

"This is what is most important," Floyd said. "Coach (Bruce Arians) said December football is going to be the hardest football, and that is what it is. At the end of the year, we are trying to stack those wins, and I think this time it was a full team win."

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