What looked like and played like a snoozer in the first half, turned into a near disaster in the second half for the Cardinals, as two safeties on quarterback John Skelton nearly threatened to extend Arizona’s losing streak to seven games.
But this is why they play the games and we watch them.
Skelton bounced back from the safeties and connected with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on a 13-yard scoring play in the fourth quarter to knot the game at 13. The game would eventually go to overtime, and the electrifying rookie Patrick Peterson would carry the Cardinals to victory.
The Rams got the ball first in the extra period, but couldn’t convert, so naturally they had to punt, and chose to kick to the always dangerous Peterson. Bad move on their part, because Peterson would get the ball at his one-yard line and take it the distance for the game winning and losing streak snapping score.
Final score: Cardinals 19, Rams 13.
Peterson had three tackles and one sack to complete his Superman effort on Sunday.
The first half was a field-goal slugfest, as St. Louis and Arizona had four of them combined – three from the Rams’ Josh Brown alone.
The Rams led 9-3 at the half, and judging by the way the Cardinals offense played, it seemed like nine points would be all the Rams would need to extend the Cardinals misery.
Arizona had four first downs and 58 yards of offense – two of those yards were on the ground.
The Cardinals came out sort of inspired in the third quarter, breaking out the no-huddle offense, which seemed to light a fire for the team.
Skelton took his team on a nine play, 58-yard drive to start the third quarter. It resulted in a 38-yard field goal by kicker Jay Feely. That cut the Rams lead to 9-6.
Then the safeties began raining down in Glendale for the Rams.
St. Louis would pin the Cardinals down at the two-yard line after punting the ball away. Defensive end James Hall would sack Skelton in the end zone for the first safety, making the score 11-6.
The Rams would do nothing on their next drive, resulting in another punt to the Cardinals. On this drive, Skelton was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in another safety, upping the Rams lead to 13-6.
The teams would trade punts throughout the fourth quarter, until the Cardinals offense took form midway through the period.
The no-huddle was in full effect on this drive, as Skelton worked exclusively from the shotgun. Skelton found Fitzgerald on the aforementioned touchdown to complete a nine-play, 84-yard drive that tied the game at 13.
Peterson worked his magic in OT, and now the Cardinals are winners, as they look ahead to a difficult three-game road trip starting in Philadelphia, Pa., next Sunday afternoon.
For the game, the Rams outgained the Cardinals on offense, 383-262. The Rams had 150 yards rushing, to the Cardinals 70.
Running back Steven Jackson had 130 yards rushing and one touchdown on 29 attempts.
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was 23-of-36 for 255 yards, one interception and zero touchdowns.
Skelton ended up 20-of-35 for 222 yards, one touchdown and most importantly, zero interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 38 yards on four carries.
Skelton talked about the “two-minute approach” as the game came down to crunch time.
“I think what happened is we ended up going with our fast-paced two-minute approach, and a lot of those are just set plays,” Skelton said. “You call them and run them. It kept them in a base defense, which allowed us to play fast and get the ball out of my hands quick.”
A couple of things the Cardinals need to correct before the trip to Philadelphia: time of possession and third down efficiency. The Rams held the ball for 36:58 to 24:59 for the Cardinals. Arizona was 2-for-10 on third down. These are two things they must improve upon if they expect to come out of Lincoln Financial Field with a win next Sunday.
Linebacker Daryl Washington talked about what a win like this does for the team.
“What a relief,” Washington said. “What a relief that we finally got a win. Guys in here are happy, and I’m excited. Let’s move forward and get another win.”