NFL Nation: 2013 Week 1 ARI at STL

Rapid Reaction: Rams 27, Cardinals 24

September, 8, 2013

ST. LOUIS -- Quick thoughts on the St. Louis Rams’ 27-24 season-opening win against the Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome:

What it means: Those expecting a big offensive explosion from the Rams didn’t exactly get what they wanted, though the Rams did do most of their offensive damage through the air. Still, quarterback Sam Bradford got the job done with a late scoring drive and started an important season for him by leading his team to a comeback victory. This team is his team without Steven Jackson, and Bradford led it when it needed him most.

Stock Watch: Up -- tight end Jared Cook had a tough start with his early fumble on what looked like it would have been a touchdown, but he bounced back and gave the Cardinals fits all day. He was the one weapon the Rams had been waiting to “unleash” who actually was unveiled Sunday. He finished with seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns.

Down -- cornerback Cortland Finnegan is supposed to be the reliable, veteran linchpin of the Rams secondary, but he had a rough day at the office. Larry Fitzgerald makes plenty of corners look bad, and he did it to Finnegan on a third-quarter touchdown. But Finnegan also racked up a pair of costly unnecessary roughness penalties.

Something’s “off”: The Rams spent large chunks of last season playing soft coverage with their outside corners. Many believed it was a product of having young corners like Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson playing a lot of snaps. Not much changed in Week 1, though. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer got the ball out quickly and efficiently for most of the day.

Quinn’s big day: Rams defensive end Robert Quinn made life miserable for Arizona left tackle Levi Brown by beating him for three sacks and forcing two fumbles, one of which the Rams recovered late before tying it up. Chris Long is the more established of the two ends but Quinn’s upside is that of an elite pass rusher.

What’s next: The Rams will be off for the next two days to regroup from a dramatic win before beginning a difficult stretch of schedule with back-to-back road trips to Atlanta and Dallas.

Rapid Reaction: Rams 27, Cardinals 24

September, 8, 2013

ST. LOUIS -- A few thoughts from the St. Louis Rams' 27-24 win over the Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome.

What it means: There’s a lot of work to be done, especially at left guard, where Levi Brown allowed a late-game sack that turned into a game-tying field goal. Overall, the Cardinals showed a productive passing game, solid running attack and a defense that will carry this team as far as it can in coach Bruce Arians’ debut.

Stock watch, Part I: Sunday wasn’t the type of return to the starting line up Brown envisioned. He was beaten early and often by Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, who sacked Carson Palmer three times, including two strips, the last of which the Rams recovered late in the fourth quarter. Arians called Brown "elite" in February, but there's a good chance Brown will be fighting for his starting spot in practice this week.

Stock watch, Part II: Andre Roberts spent the offseason toiling in the shadows of Larry Fitzgerald, who is poised for a breakout season with Palmer, and Michael Floyd, who was the chic pick for breakout player of the year. But Roberts showed you shouldn't sleep on him Sunday with eight catches for 97 yards.

Fitz is back: It’s got to be nice being Fitzgerald these days. He completed his first multi-touchdown game since Nov. 13, 2011, at Philadelphia. His first score came on a 4-yard fade to the back-left corner and the second on a 25-yard pass as he crossed the goal line.

New coach, old D: It didn’t take long for the Cardinals’ defense to show it doesn't matter who is coaching them. It was still a force, especially when the stakes were high. Take the strip by Tyrann Mathieu to save a TD or the interception and TD by nose tackle Dan Williams, the defense held the Rams at least three times on third down when all St. Louis needed was a few yards for a first down.

What’s next: The Cardinals will have to shore up their offensive line issues when the Detroit Lions bring one of the NFL’s best front fours comes to University of Phoenix Stadium for the home opener at 4:05 ET next Sunday.


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