Sunday, November 27, 2011
Wrap-up: Cardinals 23, Rams 20
By Mike Sando
Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals following the Cardinals' 23-20 victory at the Edward Jones Dome in Week 12:
What it means: Patrick Peterson's legend continues to grow after the Cardinals rookie scored on a punt return for the fourth time in his first 11 NFL games. The Rams, having lost to Arizona previously on Peterson's 99-yard return in overtime, will face tough questions about kicking to Peterson at all in this game. Little about this game will quell speculation about Steve Spagnuolo's future beyond this season as the Rams' head coach. The Rams' inability to stop the Cardinals' Beanie Wells from setting a franchise single-game record for rushing yards stands as another mark against Spagnuolo's defense.
What I liked: Wells, though limited by a knee injury in recent weeks, ran with power and speed in setting the Cardinals' single-game record for rushing yards. Wells carried 27 times for 228 yards. LeShon Johnson set the previous record with 214 yards against New Orleans in 1996. Wells' third-quarter touchdown run moved him past 150 yards while giving Arizona a 13-10 lead following Lance Kendricks's fumble. This was Wells' eighth touchdown of the season, a career high. Kendricks bounced back from his fumble to make a tough catch in traffic as the Rams moved into the red zone while trailing 20-13 in the final eight minutes. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford then found Brandon Lloyd for the tying 16-yard scoring reception.
What I didn't like: The teams with the most expensive quarterbacks in the NFC West struggled to get much going in the passing game. The Cardinals remained without injured starter Kevin Kolb, a disappointment after Kolb practiced during the week. The Rams had Bradford in the lineup, but they once again struggled through the air, in the red zone and in general for three-plus quarters. Kolb's backup, John Skelton, threw two more interceptions. He has five picks without a touchdown pass over the Cardinals' past two games. Turnovers were a problem for both teams. Josh Brown missed a 50-yard field-goal attempt that wound up being pivotal. Spagnuolo opted to pass on a late third-and-1, understandable given the state of his offensive line and his team's short-yardage problems against Arizona this season.
What's next: The Rams visit the San Francisco 49ers. The Cardinals are home against the Dallas Cowboys.