Sunday, November 25, 2012
Wrap-up: Rams 31, Cardinals 17
By Mike Sando
Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' 31-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12 at University of Phoenix Stadium:
What it means: The Cardinals' latest quarterback experiment will not produce immediate positive results, even at home against a struggling opponent. The Rams, who had not won since they defeated Arizona in Week 5, got strong play from Sam Bradford after the third-year quarterback briefly left the game with an injury. Sweeping the season series from Arizona puts the Rams (4-6-1) in position to finish ahead of the Cardinals (4-7) in the NFC West standings. The Cardinals are the first NFL team to lose seven consecutive games following a 4-0 start. They are hoping Kevin Kolb returns from injury soon.
What I liked: Cardinals rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley completed 7 of 8 passes to open the game as Arizona drove to Beanie Wells' touchdown run for a 7-0 lead. Lindley was making his first NFL start. It was important for Arizona to have Lindley inspire some confidence early in the game. Lindley made some impressive throws, but the four interceptions he threw more than offset them.
It was important for the Rams, conversely, that their defense finally ended its turnover drought before it reached an NFL-record six games. That happened when Rams rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins returned a Lindley interception for a touchdown to tie the game, 7-7. Safety Craig Dahl picked off another Lindley pass later in the game. Jenkins collected another pick-six to put away the game for Arizona. Even linebacker James Laurinaitis picked off a pass.
Bradford showed toughness by returning quickly after taking a hard hit that left him holding his ribs. Bradford quickly moved the Rams down the field, connecting with second-year tight end Lance Kendricks for a touchdown off play-action. As players note, playing hurt is one thing. Playing well when hurt is another.
Steven Jackson topped 100 yards rushing for the Rams, a big help for Bradford and the offense. Rookie Chris Givens had a 37-yard touchdown reception for the Rams, continuing his big-play production. He also topped 100 yards.
Also, the Cardinals got two touchdowns from Beanie Wells in the running back's return from injury.
What I didn't like: Three three turnovers from Lindley made life tough for the Cardinals' defense. Still, Arizona gave up too many plays to a Rams offense that had struggled during a 27-13 defeat to the New York Jets last week. Bradford tossed a pick in the end zone for the second time in as many games against the Cardinals this season. Patrick Peterson picked off both of those passes. Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald had a rough time producing for the second week in a row. He had one catch for 11 yards last week and had three catches for 31 yards deep into the fourth quarter. A holding penalty against Rams tackle Rodger Saffold spoiled a red zone opportunity for St. Louis.
What's next: Arizona visits the Jets. The Rams are home against San Francisco. St. Louis has a 3-0-1 record in NFC West play.