The Rams are always a scary opponent the Arizona Cardinals as their mean pass rush always seems to give the Cardinals offense fits. However today was a different day with two Cardinals players setting records and the Cardinals offense dismantling the Rams behind a stingy defense and over 500 yards of total offense, 175 of those yards coming on the ground between a very strong looking Kerwynn Williams and a dynamic David Johnson.
The Cardinals started the game with the football opening with a six yard run by David Johnson, an encouraging start to the game. It didn’t take long for the Cardinals first big play of the game with Carson Palmer avoiding a sack and hitting Darren Fells for a big gain of 22 yards. A few plays later Palmer hit Michael Floyd for 20 yards on a third and long.
The Cardinals offense remained balanced with some runs to DJ, including a strong nine yard run. Then the Cardinals offense stalled with a run for no gain, an incomplete pass and then a delay of game penalty on Palmer. The extra space actually benefited the Cardinals as the next play Palmer hit JJ Nelson for a 22 yard TD in the back of the end zone; a beautiful pass over the safety and corner.
On the Rams first possession the Cardinals quickly snuffed out their offense, allowing a first down pass but bottling up the Rams’ Todd Gurley. The Rams were so desperate for offense they even tried to run some wildcat to no avail.
The Cardinals offense stalled on the next drive, but the defense didn’t. After a false start penalty the Rams attempted to take a deep shot with Justin Bethel and his newly signed contract getting beat deep by Kenny Britt by several steps. Luckily Rashad Johnson was there for an over the shoulder INT catch on the overthrown ball by Nick Foles. It was Johnson's fifth INT of the season.
After a few exchanges neither offense could get going but the Rams seemed to have found a weak-link in Bethel as this time Britt was able to beat Bethel deep and catch the much more accurate pass from Foles. Despite the gain the Cardinals again clamped down and forced the Rams to punt.
And that was the name of the rest of the first half. Some big plays but nothing big enough for any scores until the end of the first half with Palmer leading the Cardinals into field goal range in just under a minute. Super exciting stuff the first half!
Cardinals 10 Rams 0
First Half Stats
Palmer: 14/23, 192 yards and 1 TD.
DJ: 14 carries, 66 yards and 4.7 YPC.
Floyd: 53 yards on 4 receptions
Nelson: 34 yards on 2 receptions and the TD
Fitzgerald: 36 yards on 3 receptions.
On defense Ed Stinson leads the way with 4 tackles and on the day the team has two TFLs, the INT by Rashad but no sacks on the day.
The Rams started the half with a three and out and the Cardinals followed. On the ensuing Cardinals punt Tavon Austin returned it to the Cardinals four yard line but luckily a blatant hold brought it back. The next play they got much of it back with a huge 34 yard run by Todd Gurley to the Cardinals 17 yard line. The Cardinals bent but didn’t break and forced the Rams into a field goal.
A terrible return by the Kerwynn Williams put the Cardinals in terrible field position when Williams fumbled the ball on the two yard line on the ensuing kickoff. He made it up a few plays later though with a powerful 15 yard run, shedding a few would be tacklers for the hard earned first down. A few plays later David Johnson hit a big run. But it wasn’t all smiles for the suddenly emerging run game as David Johnson fumbled the ball yet again. Luckily for DJ and the Cardinals, the Rams didn’t recover the ball… inbounds. The Cardinals retained possession but on the back of another scary play from DJ.
But the theme of the drive seems to be redemption as two plays later DJ caught a bullet from Palmer for his 9th TD of the season and Palmers second TD of the night. That to cap off a 98 yard drive on the back of some nice runs by the RBs and another strong catch by Michael Floyd.
The next Cardinals series looked very similar to the last one but this one was capped by a 35 yard TD run by Kerwynn Williams. Floyd made another big grab on third and 12 to extend the drive, setting up the run for Williams the next play. The line did a great job opening a huge hole and Williams finished it with some hard running.
A historic point was reached by Larry Fitzgerald who became the 11th player in NFL history with 1000 receptions. The catch was also his 8th on the day, though Fitzgerald only has 55 yards.
The Cardinals were unable to capitalize on the historic moment and had to punt a few plays later. The Rams showed some life with a 24 yard pass to Austin, putting the Rams on the Cardinals 25. The Cardinals held the Rams on the first three downs but the Rams determined to get a TD went for it on fourth down. Jared Cook was able to haul in a ten yard pass and get the first down on the Cardinals 9 yard line.
Again the Cardinals held and forced the Rams into another fourth down. With fourth down and nine to go Foles was able to hit Brandon Marquez but Marquez was hit by Tyrann Mathieu short of the end zone for a turnover and Cardinals ball on the nine.
With the ball back in the Cardinals hands they turned to the run game, this time led by Stepfan Taylor who was able to pick up 20 yards on four carries. The run game setup a huge 68 yards toss and catch for John Brown. The yards on the catch also broke another record, the 8th 300 yard passing game by Palmer in the season, breaking his 7 game tie with Kurt Warner.
Regretfully the drive only turned into a field goal, but it did extend the lead and put the Cardinals up 27 points to the Rams measly three.
At this point Arians had seen enough and benched Carson Palmer for Drew Stanton. He was tired of being embarrassed by Palmers play and turned to the savvy vet to… just kidding. Cardinals were dominating and it was a great time to get the backup some reps with only three minutes left in the game.
Game! Cardinals 27 Rams 3
The Cardinals struggled against the Rams defense at times but overall was in control the entire game with the Cardinals defense dominating the Rams offense, only allowing a few big plays. On the day the Rams had 212 yards of total offense and three points. The Rams were able to get to Carson Palmer twice for two sacks while the Cardinals were unable to get to Nick Foles for any. However the Cards were able to get enough pressure to force Foles into some bad throws. Luckily for the Cardinal Foles missed some big plays and a wide open Kenny Britt in the end zone due to the pressure.
While the game didn’t match the score I was predicted the other day, I did call this game "Palmer’s Revenge" and the foretelling became real as the man shredded the Rams to the tune of 356 yards and a total of 524 yards offense. The game saw Fitzgerald join the elite ranks of reception leaders and Palmer break the Cardinals franchise record for 300 yard passing games in a season with 8.
End of Game Stats
Palmer: 26/40 for 356 yards, and 2 TDs.
DJ: 22 carries, 99 yards rushing, 2 receptions, 21 yards and a TD.
K. Williams: 6 carries, 59 yards and a TD.
Total rushing yards 175 on 36 carries, a 4.9 YPC.