Rookie QB Lindley struggles in NFL starting debut

Arizona Sports News online

It was an afternoon to forget Sunday for Cardinals rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley.

The sixth-round pick from San Diego State threw four interceptions in an ugly 31-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

“I mean it obviously wasn’t the outcome, wasn’t the start I wanted,” Lindley, who finished 31-52 for 312 yards no touchdowns and four interceptions, said after the game. “You’ve got to roll with it. There’s not much I can do right now to take any of those back.”

He certainly looked the part on the Cardinals opening drive engineering a 15-play, 91-yard march capped by a short Beanie Wells touchdown. Much to the delight of Cards fans, he found Larry Fitzgerald early and often (three times) and used to the middle of the field to expose talented young tight end Robert Housler.

As is the case with many young quarterbacks the Rams pounced on his inexperience of the next drive when rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins stepped in front of a telegraphed throw and sprinted down the sideline for a touchdown which tied the game.

For the most part Lindley looked sharp and efficient in the first half completing 17-24 for 181 yards and one interception. He missed Fitz on two deep balls, but spread the ball around finding seven different receivers. His reads were solid and he got rid of the ball on time (zero sacks in the first half). On the three scoring drives he was 16-19 for 179 yards.

As expected, the Rams cranked up the pressure in the second half forcing Lindley’s second interception in the third quarter and made him less comfortable in the pocket.

Things went from bad to worse late in the third when Jenkins picked off his second Lindley pass and raced untouched into the end zone from 39 yards out making it 28-17. The pass came off his back foot and was nowhere close to Fitzgerald who was five to seven yards downfield from the under thrown ball.

“Basically we were in two-man with the safety over the top,” Jenkins said explaining the play. “I played everything underneath. I turned, the ball was short, and I ran back to the ball…the crowd started yelling. I just turned and made a play on the ball.”

Lindley’s final stats weren’t a thing of beauty as he finished 31-52 for 312 yards and four interceptions. He did show some flashes which caught the eye of St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher.

“He’s got a future,” Fisher explained after the game. “He sees well, makes good decisions, and can spread the ball around.”

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