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Early Sun. afternoon game. Rams had dropped their 4th consecutive game - a 31 - 7 thrashing by the Bengals. With the possible move to LA leading many to speculate that the Ram front office and coaching staff are on the bubble, their HC Jeff Fisher had adopted a "don't tell us we're not playing hard" seige mentality. As expected, the Rams came out ready r]to play physical football. Cards had won their 3rd straight - a 19 -13 squeaker over the Niners and were 9 & 2 with five tough games remaining on their schedule.
Rams were pretty much done for the year playoff-wise. But they' were still a very physical football team on both sides of the ball with an offense that could ride the backs of rookie RB, Todd Gurley and the scatback explosiveness of Tavon Austin.
Cards had to be careful nit to be misled by the Ram's record - this was a division game on the road against a very dangerous football team. .
Cards Get Even With Rams 27 - 3.
The Bottom Line:
Carson "Swivel Hips" Palmer led his team on a 14-play (7:57) fourth quarter scoring drive and scored on an 8-yard scramble to overcome a 16 - 13 Niner lead - while the Cardinal defense held on during the final 2:28 minutes to preserve the win. On the final Niner possession, QB (Blaine "2-Yards Short" Gabbert hit Anquan Boldin for 18-yards - 2 yards short of a first down. Cards took over and ran out the clock. 2:28
For a while, it looked like it was going to be one of those Ram-style football games where they'd be allowed to hang around long enough to steal the game late in the 4Q. But the combination of an effective running attack, a few chunk plays, a potent defense and zero miscues over a full 60-minutes of play were enough for the Cardinals to come away with a fairly easy 27 -3 win.
Cards received. TB on the KO. A completion to Fells for +22, over the deep middle to Floyd helped set up a 22-yard TD pass to JJ Nelson. It wasa 10-play (4:53) drive. (Almost as importnt as the points was a little bit of poetic justice when (on the Floyd completion, the Ram safety launched himself "high", missed Floyd and (not that you'd wish it on anyone) nailed CB Jarvaris Jenkins who was ineffective or absent for the remainder of the game. This meant the Rams were without their two starting CB's, Trumaine Johnson who didn't suit up and Jenkins). Cards 7 - Rams 0.
KO returned to the Ram 19. Rams managed to move to their 38 before having to punt. TB. Cards went 3 & out. Punt was returned by Austin to the StL 35; but two plays later, Foles' pass for Britt was intercepted by Rashad Johnson. Cards bal on their own 36. Cards managed to reach midfield before Butler had to punt away. Another touchback. On the second play of the following Ram series, Foles hit Britt for +30 yards. Quarter ended Ram ball at their own 49.
1st Quarter Score: Cards 7 - Rams 0..
Rams reached the Cardinal 47 before punting. Punt was downed at the Cardinal 5 (Example of Jeff Fisher's field position approach). Palmer immediately dug himself out of the hole with a +14-yard completion to John Brown. A pass interference penalty on a 32-yarder to Brown on the very next play put the Cards at midfield. But Palmer got sacked 4 plays later and Butler punted from the StL 37. Punt was returned for no gain. Ram ball on their own 10. A lot of dink and dunk stuff managed to move the Rams to their own 31, but they were forced to punt. Peterson was pushed out of bounds at the Cardinal 12.
A 23-yard completion to Fitz and a 17-yard ruin by D Johnson helped move the Cards into Ram territory but a minus-9 yard sack pretty much took the Cards out of FG range and they punted from the Rams 40. Punt (net penalty) put the ball on the Ram 5. StL went 3 & out and punted from their own 10. 1:00 left till halftime. Peterson returned the punt to the card 40. Palmer (aside from one spike) completed three straight passes - for +15, for +16 amd +12. A holding call on Massie moved the Cards to the Ram 27, but they managed to move to the Ram 12, where Catanzaro was good from 33. Cards 10 - Rams 0.
First Half Score: Cards 10 - Rams 0.
Rams received, KO was returned to the Card 27. The two teams exchanged 3 & outs. A 67-yard punt return by Austin was limited to 49 yards due to a holding penalty. On the first play of the series. Gurley rambled for +34 yards (uh oh!) to the Arizona 17, but but the Card defense tightened up and the Rams had to settle for a 35 yard Hocker FG. (Back to a 7-point game). Cards 10 - Rams 3.
. K Williams muffed the KO and the Cards took over at their own 2-yard line. A 31 yard third down completion to Floyd followed by a 23-yard run by D Johnson moved the Cards to the Ram 37. A 15-yard run by K Williams off right tackle helped set up a 10-yard TD [ass to D Johnson (Jenkins was injured on the play - another Ram hit to the helmet) and his return was iffy. 10-play drive took 5:37. Cards 17 - Rams 3.
TB on the KO. yard TD. Cards held Rams to 3 & out. Peterson ran the punt out to the Cardinal 19. Cards managed to move to the Ram 35, where K Williams burst off LG for a 35-yard TD. Cards 24 - Rams 3.
KO (net penalty) was returned to the StL 15. Rams (on runs of + 12 and +15 by Austin and Mason respectively) reached their 42 to end the quarterMcDonald.
Third Quarter Score: Cards 24 - Rams 3.
It took 4 plays for the Rams to reach their own 45. Hekker punted (a sign that Fisher was ready to accept defeat). Punt was out of bounds at the Card 11. Cards played it close to the vest, got Fitz his 1,000th reception and punted from their own 25. Fair catch: StL 40. Rams made it to the Cardinal 9 in 9 plays but the Cards held them out of the end zone on 4th & goal.
8:47 to play. Cards took over on their own 4-yard line. Palmer engineered a 9-play (4:38) drive capped by a Catamzaro 29 yarder. Cards 27 - Rams 3.
KO returned to the Ram 36. 4:09 left. StL went 3 & out. Hekker punted. Fair catch at the Card 21. Stanton in for Palmer. Cards ran out the clock in 9 plays (plus a one Foles knee on the final play).
Final Score:Cards 27 - Rams 3.
Passing: Palmer was 26 for 40 (356 yards, 2 TD's and 0 picks). Cards held Foles to 15 of 35 (146 yards, 0 TD's and 1 pic).
Takeaways: Cards plus-1. (No fumbles were recovered by either club. Cards had the only interception).
Rushing: Cards gained 175 net yards (4.9 ypc). Ram runners were held to 66 (4.4 ypc). D Johnson gained 99 yards on 22 carries. K Williams gained 59 yards (& a TD) on 6 carries. We held Gurley to 41 yards on 9 carries and Austin to 14 yards on 2 carries.
Receiving: Leading receivers were Fitz (8 catches for 55 yds); Floyd (7 catches for 104 yards) and John Brown (6 grbs for 113 yards). Nelson and D Johnson had one receiving TD apiece.
Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: . (Runs: 36/Pass: 41). Ram Run/Pass Ratio: 15/35).
Tackles: Spread around - Peterson (5), Stinson (4), Bethel, R Johnson and Mathieu (3 apiece).
Sacks - Cards were credited with no sacks).Rams had 2 sacks.
Situational Efficiency: Cards converted 7 of 16 third downs (43%).Rams were 1 of 12 (8%). Cards were 2 of 4 in the Red Zone (50%). Rams were 0of 2 (0%).
Penalties: Cards were penalized 3 times for 25 yards (Rams were penalized 7 times for 104 yds).
Time of Possession: Cards 39:47 Rams 20:13
Other than possibly Gresham, no significant injuries going into Thursday's Viking game.
No blatant miscues on offense.
Although we didn't sack Foles, we did force him to throw away a lot of balls and held him to well below 50% completions.
Our defense held them to 3 points. Run defense throttled Gurley.
Offensive line limited sacks and opened up running lanes.
We were able to run the ball without C Johnson and Ellington. D Johnson looked like a Pro Bowler. K Williams looked like a backup version of Ellington
Another road win and a "get-even" win over a divsion foe that beat us in our house. .
No turnovers (1 take-aways.
All our top 5 receivers continued to look like "money."
The Darker Side
We had difficulty finishing drives early in the game and started a bit slowly; but (after a bried halftime adjustment on StL's first series in the 2H, we pretty much put the Rams away early. We now have 10 wins with 4 games left to play). One win would be record-setting for the Cardinal franchise and pretty much guarantee a playoff spot. But our last four games include the Vikes, Seahawks and Packers (Philly is the other team) and we don't expect any to be pushovers. No doubt the media will continue to make us their darlings. How about this team rule: "Don't look at anything besides your playbook until you win one more contest. Minny got clobbered by Seattle todsy and are in a division battle with GB. Think they have anything to play for? Go git 'em!