The Arizona Cardinals got another victory on Sunday, getting a 31-14 win over the St. Louis Rams. Head coach Bruce Arians said "it's wasn't the prettiest 45 (minutes), but it sure was a nice (final) 15."
The Cardinals entered the final quarter down 14-10 and then scored three touchdowns in the final 10 minutes of the game to pull away and improve to 8-1 overall, 6-0 in the NFC and 2-0 in the division.
Here's what we learned in the win:
Once again, they use all 60 minutes to get a win
Arians called it "a beautiful win."
"It always takes 60 minutes to play this game," he said postgame. "That's why they put it on the clock."
In the first half for a drive, they struggled to stop the run and the Rams took an early 7-0 lead. They once again allowed a team late in the first half move the ball and score points, as St. Louis scored a touchdown in the final two minutes of the first half to take a 14-10 lead.
But then, things stopped.
Arizona didn't allow St. Louis to score again. They held the Rams to 15 yards rushing in the second half. They sacked Austin Davis four times and picked him off twice. They scored on a long touchdown pass and scored two defensive touchdowns.
Antonio Cromartie, who scored one of those defensive touchdowns, said, "It seems like we have to get pissed off, basically, to go out and play football the best way we know how."
Backup quarterback Drew Stanton, who threw the go-ahead touchdown to John Brown, said the Cardinals are "just a group of guys that continually fight for everything that they've got."
You have to be impressed with this team as they move forward.
The pass rush finally appeared
After getting only eight sacks in their first eight games of the season, they exploded with six against the Rams, and they missed some others. They got pressure on the quarterback consistently for the first time in forever, it seems. In addition to the six sacks, they were credited with nine other hits on Davis.
Calais Campbell had a pair of sacks. Marcus Benard got one. Alex Okafor did, too. Rookies Deone Bucannon and Kareem Martin each logged one as well.
Arians called it "that feasting time," as sacks can frequently come in bunches. Will it continue beyond this week?
The running game was terrible
Arizona was only able to muster 28 yards on 22 attempts. The longest carry of the game went for five yards. There were four negative rushes of the 22 and a fifth that was a kneeldown.
"What we needed to do was run the ball better against that front, especially on first and 10, and we did a very poor job of running the ball against a seven-man box," Arians commented postgame. "We have to addess that and do a better job against these 4-3 teams."
What the struggles came down to was "simple."
"We got our ass whipped," Arians said. "We couldn't block people."
But don't think there will be changes on the offensive line, like Jonathan Cooper getting playing time. When asked of the chances of Cooper starting next week, it was a clear "none."
Multiple receivers stand out
Yet again, it was the rookie third rounder who came up with a game-winning touchdown in the second half of a ball game. John Brown hauled in the deciding score on a 48-yard pass play that required some acrobatics.
Teammate Larry Fitzgerald said he and the rest of the team knows Brown can do it and "we expect it in big times."
Big times has been the thing for him.
Fitzgerald also stood out. He had nine catches for 112 yards, surpassing the century mark for the second time this season. He looks good again. He's not too old now, isn't he?
Jaron Brown seems to have emerged as a third down target. He had three catches in the game. All three were on third down and all three resulted in first downs.
A player who did not stand out was Michael Floyd. He only had one catch for 11 yards.
There's still hope with Drew Stanton
We obviously don't know what the severity is of Carson Palmer's knee injury, but if it does sideline for any lengthy amount of time, the team is confident in Stanton's ability. He threw the winning touchdown on Sunday and led the team to two other wins as a starter. The one loss the team suffered was when he was injured and had to leave the game.
Arians reiterated he is "always comfortable with Drew at quarterback."
Fitzgerald said "we know Drew can operate and make this thing go."
He is clearly not as gifted a player as Palmer, but he is more than capable of leading the team to more wins while Palmer is out, especially with the play of the defense. The one question is how much lower the team's postseason ceiling come down.
Arizona is now 8-1. They have the inside track to a division championship. They have a big game next week against the 7-2 Detroit Lions and the number one defense in the league.
Can they keep up this amazing run? For now, there is no reason not to.