SANTA CLARA, Calif. – As Markus Golden put himself on the map in Northern California, his mind kept drifting back to St. Louis.
The Cardinals outside linebacker had a breakout game in a nationally televised 33-21 win over the 49ers on Thursday night. He had 10 tackles, two sacks and three quarterback hits, harassing San Francisco quarterback Blaine Gabbert continuously while also doing well against the run.
The two sacks increased Golden’s total to six on the season, which is currently atop the NFL (although the rest of the teams have yet to play their Week 5 game). He was pleased with the performance, especially since there were some special spectators tuned in.
“My grandma doesn’t have cable,” Golden said. “She likes her regular TV. So she was able to watch this game tonight, and I can just see her now, smiling and being happy. My whole family’s happy. The kids got to stay up extra tonight to watch the game, so it felt good to represent for them.”
Golden and fellow outside linebacker Chandler Jones became the first two players in team history to log sacks in each of the first four games when they each brought Case Keenum down last week.
The pass rush was dynamic again versus the 49ers, and Golden led the way. Between his early edge-rushing moves and non-stop motor, he always seemed to be around the ball. He showed the ability down the stretch last year as a rookie, and it was an easy choice to make him a full-time starter this year.
“He’s light years ahead, because he understands what he’s doing,” Arians said. “He’s gotten better and there are better guys around him. He’s been a force since he’s been here.”
The Cardinals had seven sacks in the game, as a pass rush that needed addressing after last season has found its groove the past two weeks.
Golden has assumed a starring role opposite Jones, and his emergence has given defenses another top-tier edge-rusher to worry about. While he’s been happy with his play, Golden deflected praise when told he was the current league leader in sacks.
“That’s cool, man, but I’m all about winning,” he said. “My mom’s probably happy. My little cousins are happy.”
That’s who he allowed himself to think about when the game was in hand late. Golden went up to his teammates as the game winded down, and in a sing-song voice, told them ‘Hey, man, my momma’s proud of me.’
The Cardinals took a jovial plane ride back to Phoenix on Thursday night. A house in St. Louis was just as celebratory.
“It just feels good,” Golden said.