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Cardinals vs.Rams: The Key Stats behind Arizona's 24-22 loss to St. Louis

A look at what the numbers told us about yesterday's game and a chance to vote on what stat mattered most in the loss to the Rams

Norm Hall/Getty Images

Well, you can't win them all (I've lost 445 with them myself — how's that for a stat that matters) and it wouldn't take a genius to look at the numbers and figure out who came out on top this week.  The Cardinals truly laid an egg with an out of tune performance against a team that so often plays us tough (the whole NFC West division for that matter).  The stats bore that out pretty much all across the board and the challenge is deciding what stat mattered the most in the loss to the St. Louis Rams before the team hits the road for four of five away from home.

Won/Loss 3 - 1

Despite the loss, Arizona still has a one game lead in the division with 12 games to go so there's still hope (understatement intended).  For entertainment purposes only, the Cardinals have a matching 3-1 record ATS and are 4 times 'over'.

Points Scored 22 - 24

The Cardinals entered the game as the only team that had yet to trail at any point this season, but it didn't take long for that streak to end Sunday and repeated trips to the red-zone ended with field goals.  Still, the Big Red leads the league in points scored differential at +18.8 per game.

First Downs 26 - 13

It's not easy to lose when you dominate this category like this, but the Cardinals proved that it's what you do (or don't do) with first downs that matters (see below).  For the record, the Cards lead the league in defensive first downs allowed with a mere 14.8 per game and also in first down differential at +10.8.

Rushing Yards 113 - 164

With 113 yards rushing, Sunday marked the first time since the '88 Phoenix Cardinals the team has rushed for 100+ yards in each of the first four games in a season.  Unfortunately, it was trumped by the 164 yards rushing surrendered by the Cardinals defense.  All four Cardinals games this year were won by the team with the most rushing yards.

Passing Yards 334 - 164

Moving the ball through the air wasn't a problem for the Cardinals, but capitalizing on it was.  For what it's worth, the Cards now rank 3rd in the league in passing yards differential at +84 yards per game after finishing 22nd in that category last season.

Interceptions 0 - 1

The Cardinals were on the short end for the first time in this category as all four Cardinals games this year were won by the team that threw the fewest interceptions.  In a trend we've been keeping an eye on this NFL season (click the link at the bottom), teams that have out-intercepted their opponents are an eye-opening 36-3 in those games.

Fumbles Lost 2 - 0

Two huge fumbles (one that started the game and set a bad tone) played havoc in the Cardinals plans. This was the third time this year the Cardinals out-fumbled their opponent and this time they paid dearly for it.  The Cards have averaged exactly one fumble lost per game and have recovered none from their opponents.

Sacks 1 - 4

We knew coming in that this game would be a challenge to our pass protection,  but even four sacks was more than we bargained for.  Even still, the Cardinals rank 4th in protecting their quarterback and all four Cardinals games this year have been won by the team with the most defensive sacks.

Third Down Efficiency 2/11 18%

Of the 26 first downs for the Cardinals only two came on 3rd down conversions which is pretty amazing when you think about it.  The league average is just over 40 percent and Sunday's 2 for 11 was yet another sign of a team that wasn't quite on their A-Game.

Red Zone Efficiency 1/5 20%

The Cardinals started out the season with cashing in touchdowns on opportunities inside the 20 yard line by going 9 for 9, and came into Sunday's game at an amazing 11 for 12.  So it's not a surprise the team won their first 3 games and dropped this one.  On the bright side, the football split the uprights 5 out of 5 times.

Penalties Against 3 - 7

We know that it's not all about hankies when it comes to the impact of official's calls, but when counting flags, Arizona remains the least penalized team in the league by a good margin.  And when subtracting penalties-minus from penalties-plus, the Cardinals also remain the darlings of NFL referees (the Cards finished 2nd favorite last year).

Note: Yesterday's game wasn't decided by the officials, it was decided by the Rams and Cardinals and we've seen just how it turned out like it did.

Time of Possession 33:13 - 26:47

... was irrelevant.

Looking Ahead

Blue numbers are bad, white numbers are good, and the more arrows the better

The Cardinals have played much better than the Lions in many areas of the game with the very notable exception of forced fumbles recovered.  For the year, Detroit has pulled that trick 6 times while the Cardinals have yet to do so.  Also note the Lions' very anemic average of 47 yards per game rushing (worst in the league) and extremely high 78.1 defensive pass percentage allowed (ditto).

We'll see it works out.

* For those interested in learning more about the relative values of statistical categories pertaining to victory before voting on the poll, click here