- Associated Press - Monday, December 7, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - On a day Larry Fitzgerald became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions, the 32-year-old receiver was more impressed with the performance of his team than his own.

Fitzgerald’s milestone seven-yard reception came early in the fourth quarter with the Arizona Cardinals on the way to a 27-3 rout over the St. Louis Rams that improved the NFC West leaders to 10-2 and avenged a home loss against the Rams (4-8) in the fourth game of the season.

“The personal stuff is all good but I’ve done all the personal stuff,” Fitzgerald said. “Only thing I need to feel like my career is fulfilled is a championship. Each win gets you a step closer. That’s what it’s about.”

With a team-high eight catches for 55 yards, Fitzgerald finished with 1,000 catches and also secured his seventh season with 1,000 yards receiving and his first since 2011. Late in the third quarter, Fitzgerald was two catches short of a thousand when he found out coach Bruce Arians wanted to be sure he got it in this game.

“Coach told me we’re going to get these two for you,” Fitzgerald said.

On the first two plays of Arizona’s first possession in the fourth quarter, with the Cardinals leading 24-3, Palmer completed successive passes to Fitzgerald.

Despite Fitzgerald’s big day, two rookies made a bigger difference for the Cardinals. David Johnson, making his first start in place of injured Chris Johnson, rushed for 99 yards on 22 carries, and Kerwynn Williams ran for 59 yards - 35 coming on a touchdown run that gave Arizona a 24-3 lead.

“The first series, I was a little nervous,” said Johnson, a third-round pick out of Northern Iowa. “After that, I started getting more comfortable and seeing the holes opening. It felt like my college days where I got a chance to help out my team.”

Johnson scored his team-leading ninth touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Carson Palmer that completed a 10-yard, 98-yard drive in the third quarter. A 224-pound power back, Johnson did most of his damage in the first three quarters before Williams put on the finishing touches.

“They’ve been tackling a huge guy all game so to have a nice change of pace is good,” Williams said. “It’s really on the offensive line and they did a great job all day.”

“Williams gave us a big lift, and I knew he would,” Arians said. “He is the December killer. Those fresh legs showed up.”

Palmer completed 26 of 40 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns, surpassing the 300-yard mark for the fourth time in five games.

Some things to know from the Cardinals’ big win:

SAME PLACE: The setting for Fitzgerald’s 1,000th reception was fitting since he made his first catch in the same building 11 seasons ago. On the first play from scrimmage in his first game against the Rams, he caught a 37-yard pass that he still remembers.

He said he still teases Aeneas Williams, whom he beat on the play.

“A little flea flicker down the middle from Josh McCown,” Fitzgerald said.

GROUNDED ATTACK: Rams rookie RB Todd Gurley rushed for 41 yards on nine carries and failed to crack 100 yards rushing for the fifth consecutive game. Thirty-four yards came on one play in the third quarter, which set up the Rams’ only score on a 35-yard field goal by Zach Hocker. The three points was the Rams’ lowest output.

DOUBLE DUTY: Rams P Johnny Hekker assumed kickoff duty at the last minute after Hocker tweaked a quad. Hekker and WR Wes Welker both practiced kicking off before the game and Hekker ended up with his first kickoff duty since high school. Due to the Rams offensive struggles, Hekker kicked off just twice - once for a touchback and another Williams fumbled out of bounds at the Arizona 2. Hekker also punted eight times, averaging a season-high 54.5 yards an attempt.

PAINFUL TEAMMATES: Rams CB Janoris Jenkins was hit twice by fellow defensive backs and eventually left the game. In the first quarter, he took a hit in the helmet from S T.J. McDonald after an Arizona reception and was evaluated for a concussion. He cleared the protocol and returned but in the third quarter, on Johnson’s TD catch, Jenkins was hit by S Mark Barron and was ruled out with a concussion. Rams TE Lance Kendricks also was ruled out late with a concussion.

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