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Week 13 Game Recap: Arizona Cardinals 27, St. Louis Rams 3
What you need to know
After a few weeks of narrow-margin victories, it was good to see that the Cardinals are still capable of dominating games. It still was not perfect, the offense failed to capitalize on early opportunities and the defense gave up a few big plays, but both units clearly challenged themselves to play better than they did in San Francisco and the results were impressive. A quick turnaround to Thursday night should prove difficult, but the Cardinals control their destiny with four games to play.
The Rams were dominated in all facets of the game. The Rams lacked consistency only accounting for (9) 1st downs. The Rams offensive line continued to struggle affecting both the running and passing game. The Rams lost time of possession (Cardinals 39:47, Rams 20:13) by nearly a 2-1 margin.
|QB Carson Palmer, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 40 - 356 - 2 TD / 0 INT|
Throughout the week of preparation for the Rams, many on the team talked about approaching the game with revenge on the mind, but nobody more so than Carson Palmer
. The demons of the disappointing week four loss were largely exercised on Sunday, with a thorough domination of the Rams in St. Louis. A few early game offensive stalls in Rams territory deprived the Cardinals of more points, but Palmer passed with precision all afternoon, moving the offense down the field on seemingly every drive. Palmer threw two touchdown passes on the day, finding rookie speedster JJ Nelson in the back of the end zone on the teamís first possession, then later threading a needing to David Johnson
sitting down in a zone. Palmer hit on multiple deep attempts, found his hot-reads on Ram blitzes, and threw for over 350 yards all while spreading the ball around to seven different receivers. If revenge was a primary motivator, Palmer surely showed off his deadly side.
|RB David Johnson, 59 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 99 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 1 (3 targets)|
Playing in place of the injured Chris Johnson
and Andre Ellington
, David Johnson
looked more than comfortable embracing his new role as lead-back. Falling just a yard shy of the 100-yard mark, Johnson ran powerfully and explosively behind an offensive line that dominated the trenches all afternoon. Johnsonís season long Achilles heal, his penchant to put the ball on the turf, did rear its head again on Sunday, it was the lone blemish on an otherwise excellent performance (and the fumble was not lost, mitigating the damage.) While not something that will show up in the box score, Johnsonís blitz pickup was his most impressive attribute on Sunday. His ball-handling issues will remain a concern until he proves himself more reliable, but if Sunday was any indication, Johnson is more than ready to step into his expanded role.
Playing an important role as the complimentary back to Johnsonís new lead role, Williams was the game-sealer for the Cardinals on Sunday. Pressed into a similar role last year due to injuries, Williams showed his sparkplug ability that was back on display Sunday. Behind the stout block of LG Mike Iupati, and a quality pull from the right-side of the line, Williams raced through the gap, made one second-level defender miss before sprinting in for the back-breaking 35-yard touchdown that cemented the game for the Cardinals. Like David Johnson
himself, Williams has had some ball-security issues but has shown both speed and explosiveness as a runner when given the opportunity. While the team remains hopeful Andre Ellington
will be able to contribute again in the regular season and forward, Williams will be thrust into the important role of complimentary back, and performances like Sundayís give optimism heíll be ready for the challenge.
Fitzgerald left a minimal mark on Sundayís game, notching just 55 yards receiving with 23 on one catch alone, he did manage to make his mark on NFL history. Fitzgerald caught 8 of his 11 targets, with that eighth making him the youngest wide receiver in NFL history to reach 1,000 career catches. As a bit of cosmic balance, it came in the same building he caught his first career reception as well. Fitzgerald never quite got going on Sunday, but the attention paid to him by the Rams defense opened up one-on-one opportunities for Michael Floyd
all afternoon, and his sensational blocking helped the Cardinals to a big afternoon on the ground. With this milestone behind him, the only thing left for Fitzgerald to capture in his Hall of Fame career is the Lombardi Trophy that just barely eluded him before.
|WR Michael Floyd, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 104 - 0 (12 targets)|
Sunday was a very Michael Floyd
ish game. There is almost no other way to express it. Floyd was open all day, and largely exploited that coverage regularly and with ease, leading to a team-high 12 targets. He made some important chain-moving catches, had a few frustrating drops, and made a couple sensational catches along the way. It was exactly the performance that we have come to expect from Floyd at this point. The flashes of brilliance in part make up for the frustrating near-misses, but also make you question why the near-misses happen at all. He always appears on the cusp of breaking out, but never quite gets past the cusp. But when he makes plays, he really makes plays. Had it not been for the Kerwynn Williams
touchdown run (and maybe Fitzgeraldís milestone catch,) Floyd would have had the play of the game. Facing a 3rd-3 from their own 10-yard line and with only a seven-point lead, Palmer faced heavy pressure right up the middle and simply heaved up a jump-ball in Floyds direction. Using his big frame, Floyd out-positioned his defender and rose up, catching the ball at its high-point for a huge 31-yard gain and an important conversion. The Cardinals would go on to score a touchdown on the drive, breaking the game open into a two-score contest. Consistency continues to elude Floyd, but the flashes of brilliance are pretty exceptional to watch.
|WR John Brown, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 113 - 0 (8 targets)|
For any still uncertain about Brownís hamstrings and overall health must have found the fourth quarter of Sundayís game a welcome relief. After spending nearly the entire game making important, albeit un-explosive catches, Brown found himself mismatched with a Safety midway through the 4th quarter and did exactly what you would expect John Brown
to do in that scenario; run right by the guy. Stacked together with Fitzgerald on Palmerís right, the formation allowed Brown a clean release off the line and that proved too much. Brown flew past his defender and a perfectly placed pass from Palmer hit Brown in stride. Brown failed to find his way into the end zone, but 68-yards later the Cardinals went from deep inside their own territory to the Rams red zone in a flash. With the Cardinals banged up at the running back position, the health of the remaining offensive weapons will be vital to their success, and Brown looking as close to 100% as we have seen in a while was a welcome site.
|WR J.J. Nelson, 12 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 34 - 1 (3 targets)|
Collecting his second touchdown in the past three weeks, J.J Nelson converted the teamís opening drive with a 22-yard touchdown reception. Despite only one other catch in the game, Nelson has steadily improved throughout the season and continues to make impactful plays for the team.
St. Louis Rams
|QB Nick Foles, 50 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 35 - 146 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0|
struggled completing 15 passes on 35 attempts for 146 yards and 1 interception. This was Foles 9th game this season with 200 passing yards or less. Foles had little time to pass and was off-target on the majority of his passing attempts. Early 1st quarter, Foles completed a 14 yard pass to Brian Quick
. Mid 1st quarter, Foles threw the ball off-target on a deep pass attempt to Kenny Britt
. On the play, Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson jumped the route in front of Britt and intercepted the pass. Late 1st quarter, Foles completed a 30 yard pass to Britt who has running down the right sideline. A couple of plays later, Foles completed a 9 yard pass to Jared Cook
before the drive stalled. The Rams had 2 more series during the 2nd quarter but the longest completion was a 9 yard pass to Wes Welker
. The Rams were down 10-0 at halftime and Foles had 76 passing yards. Early 3rd quarter, the Rams went three-and-out with three straight incompletions. Early 4th quarter, Foles completed a 11 yard pass to Britt. Foles followed that up with a 24 yard pas to Tavon Austin
. A couple of plays later, Foles completed a 10 yard pass to Cook before the drive stalled in the red-zone. Late 4th quarter, Foles completed a 6 yard pass to Welker before missing the next two passes resulting in a three-and-out.
had 9 rushes for 41 yards. The lack of rushing attempts was due to the Rams inefficiency to sustain drives and game script of playing from behind. Early in the first quarter, Gurley received three straights rushing attempts but came away without a first down. On the first play, he took the hand-off and ran off the right tackle for a 5 yard gain. Gurley lined up in the wildcat-formation on 2nd down and ran up the middle for a 2 yard gain. On third down, Gurley had no room to run as he was stopped at the line of scrimmage. Late 2nd quarter, Gurley ran the ball up the middle for a 5 yard gain. Early 3rd quarter, Gurley rushed up the middle for a 34 yard gain. On the play, Gurley had a large hole to run through as he cut to the left sideline for his longest rush of the afternoon.
|RB Tre Mason, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 13 - 0, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (2 targets)|
entered the game early in the 2nd quarter. On Mason's first carry, he was met at the line of scrimmage for a 2 yard loss. Mason followed that up with a 7 yard reception on a screen-pass. Late 3rd quarter, Mason ran off the left tackle for a 15 yard gain. A couple of plays later, Mason caught a screen pass for a 3 yard gain.
|WR Tavon Austin, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 14 - 0, Rec: 1 - 24 - 0 (3 targets)|
had 1 reception on 3 targets for 24 yards. Austin added 2 rushes for 14 yards. Late 1st quarter, Austin ran an end-around from left-to-right for a 2 yard gain. The Cardinals defense was ready for the play as Austin had no room to run. Early 3rd quarter, Austin had a 67 yard punt return called back due to a holding penalty. Late 3rd quarter, Austin ran an end-around from right-to-left for a 12 yard gain. Early 4th quarter, Austin ran an out-route for a 24 yard reception.
|WR Kenny Britt, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 41 - 0 (6 targets)|
had 2 receptions on 6 targets for 41 yards. Late 1st quarter, Britt ran a go-route down the right sideline and made a 30 yard reception while out-jumping the defensive back. Early 4th quarter, Britt ran a slant-route for a 11 yard gain.
|WR Wes Welker, 14 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (3 targets)|
had 2 receptions on 3 targets for 15 yards. Mid 2nd quarter on a 3rd and 5, Welker ran an out-route for a 9 yard gain. Late 4th quarter, Welker ran an out-route for a 6 yard reception.
|WR Brian Quick, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (6 targets)|
had 1 reception on 6 targets for 14 yards. Early in the 1st quarter, Quick ran a quick slant-route and made a 14 yard reception.
|TE Jared Cook, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (9 targets)|
had 3 receptions on 9 targets for 22 yards. Early 2nd quarter, Cook ran a crossing-route for a 9 yard gain. Mid 2nd quarter, Cook made a 3 yard reception on a screen-pass. Early 4th quarter, Cook ran a crossing-route for a 10 yard gain.
left the game early and was being evaluated for a concussion.