Rapid Reaction: Arizona Cardinals
December, 8, 2013
By Josh Weinfuss | ESPN.com
A few thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 30-10 win over the St. Louis Rams.
What it means: It's hard to tell. The Rams played badly enough that it almost didn't matter how well the Cardinals performed. However, the defense is getting better each game and manhandled the Rams at the line of scrimmage, especially in pressuring quarterback Kellen Clemens. On offense, the Cardinals' line played among its best games of the season, holding Robert Quinn and Chris Long at bay. Some of the small improvements were progress, such as how the offensive line, in particular Bradley Sowell, corralled Quinn.
Stock Watch: For being questionable, quarterback Carson Palmer sure didn't look like he had an injured throwing elbow. He threw for 269 yards and one touchdown but he kept the passes relatively short, hitting Larry Fitzgerald for 96 yards on 12 passes. Palmer's elbow didn't appear to bother him as he was quick and timely with his passes. The week of rest looked to have helped Palmer.
Mathieu out: Tyrann Mathieu's knee injury looked gruesome as it happened on the field and even worse in replay. He left the game in the third quarter on a cart and did not return. If he can't play the rest of the season, Arizona's defense will take a hit of its own. Mathieu was a versatile safety who could play in base and nickel, but could also line up at cornerback, a skill Rashad Johnson -- Mathieu's replacement -- lacks. The Cardinals will also miss Mathieu's explosiveness and big-play capability.
Defensive points: Anytime the defense can add points, the odds of winning go up. On Sunday, Arizona's defense scored eight on its own: A safety by John Abraham and a pick-six by Karlos Dansby, his second in as many home games. Without the eight points, the Cardinals would've been sweating a 15-10 lead for most of the game.
What's next: The Cardinals head to Music City next Sunday to play the Tennessee Titans.