Statistical Look At The Arizona Cardinals Offense vs St. Louis Rams

ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 12: Derek Anderson #3 of the Arizona Cardinals passes against the St. Louis Rams during the NFL season opener at the Edward Jones Dome on September 12 2010 in St. Louis Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Rams 17-13. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Before we completely move on to the Arizona Cardinals second regular season game against the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday, I wanted to take a look at some of the Cardinals offensive drives in their victory over the Rams. As we all know, the offense struggled -- and that's putting it mildly. Anderson wasn't on the same page as Larry Fitzgerald and the offensive line had trouble blocking the Rams defensive unit. The four fumbles on offense also put an end to several drives. So statistically, how did the offense vary on scoring drives to none-scoring drives?

I'll use the first drive of the game as an example, mainly to show how productive Anderson began.

Plays Yards TOP QB C/A Yards TD
8 57 4:10 Anderson 4/4 52 0

Obviously this drive resulted in the first turnover of the game -- a Tim Hightower fumble -- but as you can see, the offense was driving right off the bat. Anderson didn't miss a pass, including an 18-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald. It seemed that no one was going to stop the offense from scoring. Momentum certainly exists in the NFL, and it was lost with this opening drive. Next let's take a look at the first score of the game:

Plays Yards TOP QB C/A Yards TD
10 52 4:01 Anderson 3/5 40 0
In the Cardinals first scoring drive, Anderson led the Cardinals offense down field completing 3 of 5 passes. The offense couldn't convert a key third down and settled for a Jay Feely field goal. As you can see, each of the last drives were similar in terms of yards and time of possession. The next table illustrates the Cardinals first touchdown of the game:

Plays Yards TOP RB C YPC TD
5 76 2:34 Hightower/LSH 5 15.2 1

This drive turned out to be one of the best rushing drives that I've seen from the Cardinals in the last 6+ seasons. It may sound extreme, but between Tim Hightower and LaRod Stephens-Howling, four runs were over 15 yards and the final run was for a touchdown. Derek Anderson didn't need to throw the ball. If the Cardinals can put together runs like this all season, the offense will be in better shape. The final drive we'll look at is the Cardinals final score of the game:

Plays Yards TOP QB C/A Yards TD
7 86 3:56 Anderson 6/8 101 1

Anderson, who struggled to put together a string of throws all game, was on the money for the Cardinals last scoring drive. Yes, if you are adding the numbers, they don't make sense. The Cardinals drive was 86-yards but they also committed two penalties resulting in the additional 15-yards. Anderson's final throw was the touchdown pass to Larry in the endzone.

Take it for what you want, but the Cardinals offense was firing on all cylinders when Derek Anderson and the running game were on point. If we subtract the drives above from the overall stats, then we are left with the following:

Plays Yards TOP QB C/A Yards TD
34 107 13:08 Anderson 9/24 104 0

 If the Cardinals offense is going to succeed against the Atlanta Falcons, Anderson's accuracy is the key to victory.

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