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Catanzaro on game-winning kick: ‘I wanted this opportunity’

Chandler Catanzaro watches his field goal make in a 23-20 win against the San Francisco 49ers. (Associated Press)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — It was not exactly coincidence that Chandler Catanzaro’s game-winning field goal in Sunday’s 23-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers went through the very uprights he failed to split in the loss to the New England Patriots and tie with the Seattle Seahawks.

After all, the Cardinals always head for the north end zone in the fourth quarter, so if a game winner was to be made, that’s where it would happen.

Still, when Catanzaro stepped up and knocked a 34-yard attempt through as time expired, it was a moment that he — and his team — needed.

“No, I put that behind me and it was tough to do that, but I’ve put that behind me and really worked hard on the fundamentals,” Catanzaro said when asked if it ever crossed his mind that he was kicking toward an end zone that had not been kind to him. “Just trusted my process every day and came into work every day.

“I tried not to get too high or too low, and it’s the same thing now after the game. I’m back to work because I think we’ll have some exciting games down the stretch that I’ll need to come through.”

Probably.

Even while Catanzaro was scuffling a bit, the Cardinals gave no indication that they were exploring the idea of making a change. Whenever asked, head coach Bruce Arians would express confidence in his third-year player, and after the game Sunday, he said he had no questions of whether or not that last kick would be made.

“It was never a doubt in my mind,” Arians said.

However, one thing Arians and the coaching staff did this game that was different than the last one in this building, when Catanzaro’s miss led to the tie, was make sure the ball was on the right hashmark prior to the attempt.

“That’s my money,” Catanzaro, who also made field goals of 39 and 19 yards as well as both of his PATs, said of the spot. “When coaches approached me, that’s where I say, ‘right hash.’ That’s just what I’ve always done.”

The reasoning for his preferring that side of the field, the kicker said, might have something to do with his eyes. Regardless, the Cardinals made sure to put him in the best possible situation to succeed, and he rewarded them with his first game-winner of the season, and third for his career.

“I’m proud of Cat,” QB Carson Palmer said. “A huge, huge hit for him. He’s had a great last month or so, just watching him in practice. Very, very consistent.

“There was never a doubt from anybody on our sideline when we sent the field goal team out there.”

Catanzaro, who credited snapper Aaron Brewer, holder Ryan Quigley and the line for blocking up front, said it means a lot to him that Arians and his teammates continued to have faith in him. He never lost faith in himself, either, which is why he said as the Cardinals were driving with the score tied late in the game, he was hoping a chance would come.

“The past couple haven’t gone in, but I wanted this opportunity,” he said. “I just got on my kicking net and focused on the fundamentals, took a couple of deep breaths, said a couple of prayers.

“God is good and God is good all the time, so I’m very happy that last kick went through the pipes for these guys.”

There is also another emotion Catanzaro felt when the kick split the uprights.

“Relief,” he said, with a smile. “I was just glad that it did. The kick felt good off my foot. I looked up and it was right between the pipes, so it definitely was a better feeling than it has been the past couple of times this season.

“Like I said, never too high, never too low. I’ve got to go back to work this week and be ready for the next one when it comes up.”

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