ST. LOUIS -- Arizona’s Cinderella story got a reality check Thursday night, as the St. Louis Rams’ defense played the role of evil stepmother to Kevin Kolb and the formerly 4-0 Arizona Cardinals.
It wasn’t pretty – not many games which end 17-3 are – the Rams’ pass rush treated Kevin Kolb like their own personal tackling dummy, as they sacked the beleaguered Cards' signal caller nine times. The Rams’ D was in the Arizona backfield so often, Kevin Kolb was hurried, sacked or hit on 35 percent of his dropbacks – the league average is a little less than 12 percent.
“We believe in ourselves," said Robert Quinn. "We believe we can be one of the great defenses. When there was a play to be made, we made it."
And it was a good thing they did, because the Rams received very little help from their offense. Sam Bradford started the game by leading a 5-play, 69-yard scoring drive that ended in a Lance Kendricks’ 7-yard touchdown reception, but Bradford then disappeared for much of the game.
Sam Bradford completed just seven of his 21 pass attempts for 141 yards, including a stretch where the former No. 1 overall pick missed on 12 straight throws. Still, with the St. Louis defense flying around all night, it was good enough.
"Those guys played outstanding," Bradford said of his defense’s performance. "They've played great all year and they have kept us in a lot of games."
Aside for the gaudy number of sacks, the game was won when the St. Louis defense stopped the Cardinals’ offense twice on 4th down inside the red zone.
But the news was not all positive for St. Louis. Danny Amendola, who came into this game tied with Percy Harvin for 2nd in receptions, was forced to leave with a shoulder injury when he landed awkwardly on a diving attempt late in the second quarter. Amendola returned to the sideline sporting an arm-sling, but no official injury update has been given.
Les Snead, the Rams’ general manager, reportedly said Amendola’s clavicle does not appear to be broken and that he does expect him to be back this season.
Steven Jackson played despite a lingering groin injury which had kept him out of practice for most of the week. The Rams’ all-time leading rusher has his best game of the year so far, as he produced 76 yards on 18 carries. The bigger news for Jackson comes courtesy of reports that the he will exercise his option to void the last year of his contract with St. Louis and become a free agent at season’s end.
Although he was harassed all night, Kevin Kolb did not throw an interception and finished the game 28/50 for 289 yards. He connected with Larry Fitzgerald eight times for 92 yards on a night the Cardinals’ star wideout passed Mel Gray in the franchises’ record books on the strength of his 122nd straight game with a reception.
The Cardinals now fall to 4-1 in a game they have to feel they let slip away. Arizona left a lot of points on the field, thanks to those two missed red zone opportunities, as well as a 40-yard field goal attempt that Jay Feely pulled wide left.
"I didn't like anything," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "The thing I respected is our guys didn't quit, and even as bad as it went, we had a chance at the end of the game."
For the Rams, this victory moves them to 3-2 on the year. And while that stat may not immediately jump off the page, the Rams have not been over the .500 mark since 2006 – something to which the St. Louis players are keenly aware.
I've never been there before," Chris Long said. "I'm unfamiliar with the sound of it, but I'm liking it."