The Arizona Cardinals defeated the St Louis Rams in St Louis on Sunday. The Cardinals have swept all of their divisional opponents on the road in 2015, and they are now 10-2 for the season. More importantly, Arizona is showing it’s true depth as they deal with the types of injuries that typically come in the latter part of the NFL season.
After the Arizona Cardinals lost both of their starting running-backs, many wondered if the NFL’s top offense would struggle against the Rams defense. The Cardinals did just fine though when it came to the running game, chalking up 175 yards on the ground in St Louis.
Rookie running-back David Johnson handled the load for much of the game, putting up 99 yards on 21 carries and hauling in a TD reception. The Cardinals also promoted Kerwynn Williams from the practice squad, who averaged nearly 10 yards a carry to go along with a 35 yard rushing TD.
Simply put, this running-back production allowed the Cardinals to dominate the time of possession, and allowed Arizona to stay balanced with the offensive play call. In fact, the Cardinals rushed the ball 36 times while only passing the ball 27 times.
Carson Palmer spoke highly of the offensive line play Sunday stating that the protection was “phenomenal” and that the rookie running back David Johnson was indeed ready for this game, “I think everybody on that sideline was excited to see him finally get his opportunity.”
Palmer also had himself a quite a day, throwing for 356 yards and 2 TDs, while only taking 2 sacks. Tom Brady still leads the NFL in passing yardage and passing TDs but when you look at the stats, Brady and the Patriots simply throw the ball more than the Cardinals do.
Carson Palmer actually averages a full yard more than Brady does on yards per completion, but with New England ranking 28th in over all rushing, it’s easy to see why they toss the ball so much.
The Arizona defense on the other hand made Sunday’s game a statement, limiting Todd Gurley to just 41 rushing yards and zero touchdowns. The Rams in return resorted to the pass after the run game was struggling but the Arizona defense wasn’t having any of that either.
QB Nick Foles had a very rough go at it versus a hungry Cardinal defense, even without taking any sacks. The Arizona defense held Foles to 15 out of 35 on passing attempts, 146 yards for the game, and a QBR of 8.9. Arizona safety Rashad Johnson had the game’s only interception, Rashad Johnson now has 5 take aways which is good for second best in the League.
Truth is, Arizona had many reasons to get up for this game. The Rams had beaten the Cardinals in Arizona earlier in the year, the Cardinals were coming off a disappointing performance (although they did win) in San Francisco. And then you had the birthday of Arizona’s VP Michael Bidwill, of whom I’d personally consider being the biggest reason as to Arizona’s recent success.
Michael Bidwill has changed the culture in the desert with the hiring of GM Steve Keim and ultimately the Head Coach Bruce Arians. Technically his father Bill Bidwill still owns the team but it has been his son Michael Bidwill that has been running things for quite some time now. The Arizona Cardinals have now won at least 10 games in each of the last 3 seasons, something Arizona has never done since moving to the Valley in 1988.
Another mentionable from Sunday’s game is Larry Fitzgerald. The Arizona Cardinal future Hall of Famer WR now has 1,000 receptions, and is the youngest person to do so in NFL history. Fitzgerald, now at age 32, is having his best season ever in 2015. The star wide receiver started his career in Arizona and there was much talk about his contract during the off-season, but thankfully it all worked out and it appears (at least for now) that he will spend his entire career in the desert.
After the game Arizona’s Bruce Arians was asked if he was enjoying the last three winning seasons in Arizona, “Not really.. not really because we’re still looking to improve… there’s a time to look back on the journey and enjoy it but this isn’t it.”
Arizona will now prepare on a short week to play the Vikings on Thursday Night Football. The Cardinals are now 3-0 when on the National stage in 2015,winning both of their Sunday Night games and a Monday Night match up as well.
With the Seattle Seahawks finally waking up from their slumber, Thursday Night’s game will be just like every other game this season, as in it will be the most important game of the season.. or at least that’s the way the fans see it.
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