NFC West: 2010 Week 14 Wrap-ups

Wrap-up: Cardinals 43, Broncos 13

December, 12, 2010
12/12/10
8:20
PM ET
Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' victory over the Denver Broncos at University of Phoenix Stadium:

What it means: The Cardinals finally ended their losing streak, which had run to seven games. They can exhale. This performance qualified as an ugly one most of the way, but Arizona needed a victory any way it could get one. Breaking it open in the fourth quarter had to feel good. The Broncos came along at right time. They fired coach Josh McDaniels days earlier and continued to flounder.

What I liked: Arizona's defense played a strong game for the second week in a row, allowing the Cardinals to unleash kicker Jay Feely upon the Broncos. Feely kicked four field goals and scored on a 5-yard run as the Cardinals converted four Denver turnovers into a 19-3 lead through three quarters. Feely made five field goals overall. Arizona blew open the game with 24 fourth-quarter points, including two touchdown runs from Tim Hightower. Daryl Washington's 40-yard interception return for a touchdown provided a fitting end to a game Arizona's defense dominated.

What I didn't like: Arizona had trouble getting into the end zone through three quarters. Rookie quarterback John Skelton completed only 14 of his first 35 passes for 141 yards -- 4.0 yards per attempt -- without a touchdown. The Cardinals had to figure they could play it safe given the Broncos' problems on offense. But a little more production early in the game would have been nice.

For the record: Larry Fitzgerald moved past former teammate Anquan Boldin to become the Cardinals' career leader for receptions. He moved past Jackie Smith to rank second behind Boldin on the career receiving yardage list.

Pounding away: Hightower carried 18 times for 148 yards and two scores. That gives him the clear upper hand over second-year back Beanie Wells, who carried six times for 16 yards, with no run longer than six yards. Wells did not return after becoming ill.

What's next: The Cardinals visit the Carolina Panthers.

Wrap-up: Saints 31, Rams 13

December, 12, 2010
12/12/10
8:12
PM ET
Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' 31-13 defeat at New Orleans in Week 14:

What it means: The Rams fell to 6-7, as expected, but they came out of the week OK. San Francisco's victory over Seattle leaves St. Louis and the Seahawks tied atop the NFC West, same as before games Sunday. The Rams largely control their ability to win the NFC West because they face San Francisco (in St. Louis) and Seattle (on the road) in the final two weeks of the regular season.

What I liked: The Rams continued to fight. They did not let the game get too far out of hand. Safety Craig Dahl picked off Drew Brees in the fourth quarter, setting up a touchdown drive featuring two fourth-down conversions, including one on fourth-and-18.

What I didn't like: The Saints beat up Rams quarterback Sam Bradford more than previous opponents managed to do. Bradford threw an interception in the red zone. The Saints returned it 96 yards for a game-changing touchdown. The Saints scored 14 points off Rams turnovers. Steven Jackson lost a fumble in the first quarter, his first lost fumble in 562 touches.

What's next: The Rams return home to face Kansas City in Week 15.

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