Cardinals vs. Rams 2014 final score: 3 things we learned from Arizona’s 12-6 win
Defense ruled the night in St. Louis, where Arizona scraped together enough field goals to pull out its 11th win of the season.
Thursday night’s matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams was the type of game that distinguishes the kind of football fan you are. If you’re someone who loves defense, you probably thought the Cardinals’ 12-6 win was a hard-hitting, quarterback rustling, old-school classic. If you like long passes and boatloads of points, you probably switched the channel midway through the third quarter.
If you did, you missed an entertaining finish to an otherwise slow game. Having suddenly awakened to march down for a field goal on the previous drive, the Rams, trailing by six, began to get into an offensive rhythm under the three-minute mark. Shaun Hill began completing passes, driving his team to midfield. But on fourth-and-3 with 1:26 remaining, Hill’s pass was batted down by a blitzing Jerraud Powers to all but ice the game. St. Louis did get the ball back with about 20 seconds left, but they’re last-second desperation heave was picked off by Patrick Peterson well short of the end zone.
After it looked like they were slipping toward a late-season decline, the Cardinals have now pulled out two big wins in a row and sit at 11-3. The Rams saw their two-game win streak snapped and fall to 6-8.
1) Defense ruled the day.
The two offenses combined for just 534 yards, 25 first downs and 15 punts (and those numbers were boosted by a couple of semi-successful Rams drives at the very end). The two defensive lines were dominant, badgering each other’s quarterbacks and stuffing running lanes all night. The Rams, who came in having averaged 136 rushing yards per game over the last month, had just 69 yards on the ground and averaged 3.5 yards per carry.
The Rams’ best shot at getting into the end zone came midway through the fourth quarter when their offense abruptly raced down the field to set up a first-and-goal from the 7-yard line. But the Cardinals defense stiffened, and on third-and-goal they forced Shaun Hill to roll out and chuck the ball out of bounds. Trailing by nine, Jeff Fisher elected to kick the field goal. They never whiffed the end zone again.
2) The Cardinals lost another quarterback.
Midway through the third quarter, Drew Stanton, who has filled in under center since Carson Palmer went down with a torn ACL, had his leg buckle under him while being sacked by Aaron Donald. Stanton couldn’t put any weight on the leg as he hopped off the field, was carted into the locker room and didn’t return.
Interestingly enough, the Cardinals opted not to turn to Logan Thomas, the rookie fourth-rounder who is listed as Stanton’s backup on the official depth chart. They instead went with Ryan Lindley, a former sixth-round pick who hadn’t seen live action since making four starts back in 2012 and has nine career turnovers and no touchdowns.
Lindley fared no better than Stanton did before his exit, going 4-of-10 for 30 yards (Stanton went 12-of-20 for 109 yards).
The Cardinals all but clinched a playoff spot on Thursday night, but if Stanton’s injury turns out to be serious, they’ll have to worry about going one-and-done when they finally get to the postseason.
3) Chandler Catanzaro continues his lights-out rookie campaign.
In a night where no one could get into the end zone, the Cardinals rookie kicker was the star of the show. Catanzaro, coming off a game where he missed multiple field goals for the first time in his career, nailed all four of his attempts, including a 51-yarder midway through the fourth quarter to put Arizona up by two scores.
Catanzaro missed a pair of kicks against the Chiefs last week (he still went 3-of-5), but has otherwise been near-automatic. He made the first 16 kicks of his career and is now 26-for-30 (90 percent) on the season.