The Arizona Cardinals earned a hard-fought 11th win holding off the St. Louis Rams 12-6 at the Edward Jones Dome. The Cardinals improved to 11-3 and in the process snapped the Rams’ (6-8) two-game winning streak. The victory also snapped an 11-game losing streak playing Thursday games. It was the Cards first Thursday win since 1948.
Here are five things we learned in the win.
1. Standby for Stanton…Drew Stanton became the second quarterback to be carted off the field against the Rams this season leaving the game in the third quarter after being sacked by a host of Rams. He limped to the sidelines putting no pressure on his right leg. “We know he has an injury,” head coach Bruce Arians said. “We have no idea what the extent of it is…we’ll take it very slowly with him and see how it goes once we get the MRI.” Stanton completed 12-20 for 109 yards before being relieved by a rusty and mostly ineffective Ryan Lindley who got the nod over rookie Logan Thomas. Whoever is under center will have their hands full when the defending champion Seattle Seahawks invade Glendale on December 21st.
2. Getting Defensive…it was apparent early points would be at a premium with the consistent Cardinals and the swarming Rams who were coming off back-to-back shutouts. Both game plans were simple and similar: attack the quarterback from all angles in obvious passing downs. In the battle of backups, Shaun Hill and Stanton (before injury) were under constant pressure. Arizona’s front of Calais Campbell (five tackles, two QB hits), Frostee Rucker (sack, three tackles for loss) and others frequently met in the Rams’ backfield. “Everyone wanted to talk all that stuff about how great their defense is,” Arias said with an edge to his tone. “I think they saw a good defense [Thursday]. It was in red and white.”
3. Special K…sans last week’s two-miss game against the Chiefs rookie placekicker Chandler Catanzaro has been solid through nearly all of the season. The same can’t be said for second-year punter Drew Butler but Thursday the former Georgia Bulldog and son of long-time NFL kicker Kevin Butler played a huge roll in dictating field position, frequently pinning the Rams deep in their own territory. “Catman” bounced back producing all the Cardinals scoring drilling field goals of 23, 44, 51 and 46 yards. Mike Leach and Justin Bethel each came up with big plays on special teams, as well. “Our special teams were lights out,” Arians explained afterwards. “Covering kicks, returning kicks. Giving us the field position we needed. Our kicker getting it between the poles this time.”
4. Larry Legend…we’ve all taken him for granted at times. It comes with the consistency and high level of play we’ve seen from Larry Fitzgerald during his 11 seasons with the Cardinals. Late in the second quarter he reeled in his 900th career catch. He became the youngest in NFL history to reach 900 catches and 12,000 yards. The 31-year-old broke the old mark by the Texans Andre Johnson (32). Fitz’s production has declined in the past couple years, especially his touchdowns but his greatness will never be forgotten whether he finishes his Hall-of-Fame career in Arizona or elsewhere.
5. Crown His A$$…as made famous by another Cardinals’ head coach it’s time to engrave “Bruce Arians” on the NFL Coach of the Year trophy. No team, possibly in the history of the NFL, has overcome endless injuries to key players like Arians and the Bird Gang who refuse to quit or believe the “experts” constantly trying to drag this team down. Arians has long preached, “team is what it takes” and has never been more evident than 2014.