The Arizona Cardinals lost a tough one on Sunday. With three turnovers and forcing none, the Cardinals fell to the St. Louis Rams 24-22 Sunday afternoon. It was certainly frustrating, but what did we learn? Here are some of those things.
It's hard to overcome turnovers
If there is one thing we know about football, it is if you lose the turnover battle, you usually lose the game. Arizona lost two fumbles and had a pass intercepted. They did not create any turnovers (although that can be disputed). Even still, they still were in a position to win the game. But when you are -3 in the turnover department, it is almost impossible to do.
David Johnson fumbled the initial kickoff. Larry Fitzgerald fumbled when the team was driving. Carson Palmer had a pass intercepted in the end zone.
Really, what did we expect?
David Johnson played like a rookie
Johnson experienced the ups and downs of being a rookie. He fumbled. He dropped a pass in the end zone. He couldn't haul in a fourth down pass the team needed to continue its final drive. He also ran the ball three times for 18 yards. He caught four passes for 63 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown to bring the game within two points. He was targeted a team-high 10 times.
He got the team six points, but his miscues cost the Cardinals a clear four points (the dropped third down pass in the end zone that led to a field goal) and you can certainly argue 11 (the Rams scored a touchdown three plays after Johnson fumbled the initial kickoff).
Todd Gurley is special
The defense looked so good against Todd Gurley. In the first half, he had four carries for two yards. Through three quarters, he had 38 yards on six carries and 23 came on one play. He finished with 146 yards on 19 carries. 123 of those yards came on four plays. That means he was held to 23 yards on 15 carries. The four plays the defense "just lost (its) discipline" on a few plays. That was the difference. Nonetheless, when he is bottled up for that little, only to end up with a huge game, you can see why there was so much excitement surrounding him.
Fitz miscues are bad omens
Larry Fitzgerald dropped a pass and also fumbled the ball away. According to what Josh Weinfuss tweeted, the last time that happened in one game, it was 2007. But when things like that happen, it isn't good. He had a critical fumble against San Francisco in 2013 when the team was driving. They lost that game. The same thing happened on Sunday. Just know this, if Fitz fumbles, it doesn't look good.
Even still, he hauled in seven passes for 99 yards. That's still solid.
The Rams got to Palmer
Whether it affected some of his throws, Palmer felt the Rams defense. He was sacked four times after only being sacked once in the previous three. According to the stat sheet, he was hit nine times and hurried nine times. It was exactly what we all expected.
The Cardinals offense was still moving the ball
Aside from red zone issues, they still gained 447 yards. They rushed for 113 yards -- the fourth straight game they have gone for more than 100. Palmer threw for 352 yards. They just couldn't do it when it counted. "From 20 to 20, we moved the football," Fitzgerald sad after the game. "We ran the football. We threw the football. It was just that we got bogged down in the red zone...So we were productive offensively, but with the turnovers and the miscues in the red zone, it's hard to overcome that in this business."
Calais Campbell was a monster
He absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage. He finished with 11 tackles and half a sack, 3 tackles for a loss and two hits on Nick Foles. You can't ask much more from him than that.
Patrick Peterson pitched another shutout
Kenny Britt, whom he guarded most of the game, had no catches. Good work.
Tavon Austin caused problems
Austin is the focal point of the Rams offense and he hurt the Cardinals. He ended up with six catches for 96 yards and a score. He also rushed for 20 yards. He beat them deep in zone coverage for 47 of his receiving yards. He beat Jerraud Powers for the touchdown in the fourth quarter. Otherwise, we was mostly held in check.
There were some bad/missed calls
It happens every week, but there seemed to be some egregious mistakes by the referees. Twice the Cardinals appeared to get a turnover. On one, the refs ruled the Rams got it back. On the other, when there was a clear fumble, it was ruled forward progress was stopped. On that particular play, how was that the call?
There were a couple of plays were flags should have been thrown for late hits or unnecessary roughness on John Brown. They weren't the difference in the ball game necessarily, but it was a very frustrating thing to watch.
Bottom line: The Cardinals beat the Cardinals
The Rams are a talented team. They were tough and they were all the Cardinals expected, but it was the Cardinals who beat themselves. Bruce Arians said the common theme of the game was "poor execution." Safety Rashad Johnson said "a lot of it was self-inflicted." Carson Palmer blamed himself, saying, "I flat out did not make enough plays for us to win the game."