Dec 11, 2014 10:59 PM
Cardinals end Rams' shutout streak, lead 9-3
The Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) Chandler Catanzaro kicked three field goals and the Arizona Cardinals led the St. Louis Rams 9-3 after three quarters Thursday night, a lead tempered by the loss of quarterback Drew Stanton to a right knee injury.
Stanton, who was filling in after Carson Palmer was lost to a season-ending knee injury during Arizona's first meeting with the Rams this season, hopped off the field on his left leg and was later carted to the locker room. The team said Stanton would not return.
Ryan Lindley, who was signed off of San Diego's practice squad after Palmer's injury, completed a 6-yard pass to Michael Floyd on the next play to set up Catanzaro's 51-yard field goal midway through the third quarter to make it 9-3.
The NFC West-leading Cardinals (10-3) were outplaying St. Louis' stout defense, which shut out Oakland and Washington the previous two games. The Rams haven't given up a touchdown since San Diego scored with 8:09 left in a 27-24 victory on Nov. 23.
But St. Louis' offense couldn't get anything going, failing to gain a single first down on five drives in the third quarter.
After killing their first two drives with penalties, the Cardinals were able to take advantage of a shortened field when Frostee Rucker punched the ball out of Rams rookie Tre Mason's grasp and linebacker Larry Foote recovered the fumble at the St. Louis 27. When the drive stalled, Catanzaro came on to connect from 23 yards and tie it at 3.
Floyd started Arizona's next drive with a 49-yard reception, beating Janoris Jenkins down the left sideline, to set up Catanzaro's 44-yarder. Jenkins also was flagged for a 36-yard pass interference penalty by bumping into Floyd on another deep ball down the same sideline to set up Catanzaro's third field goal.
Stanton completed nine of his first 10 passes only missing on a third-and-goal pass intended for Kerwynn Williams and had 109 yards on 12-for-20 passing before leaving the game.
Both starting quarterbacks were different from when the teams last met Nov. 9, with Arizona outscoring the Rams 21-0 in the fourth quarter for a 31-14 victory. The Cardinals scored touchdowns off of Austin Davis' two turnovers that ended up costing him his job, leading to Shaun Hill's return as the St. Louis starter.
Hill completed all four of his passes for 53 yards on the opening drive, and Greg Zuerlein shook off a last week's rough first half to drill a 24-yard field goal. Zuerlein had missed an extra point and two short field goals in the opening half against Washington.
Those three points would have been enough for the Rams (6-7) to win each of the past two weeks, when they notched back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1945 and outscored Oakland and Washington 76-0. In the second quarter, 31-year-old Larry Fitzgerald became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 900 career receptions. He's a full year ahead of Andre Johnson's pace.
Arizona, which came into the game tied with Green Bay for the NFC's best record, helped stop itself on its first two drives by committing four penalties, twice wiping out big gains. The momentum changed after Mason's fumble, just after the Rams had forced a second straight punt to open the game.
To get into the playoffs, the Cardinals need only a win against the Rams combined with Sunday's Dallas-Philadelphia game not ending in a tie.
Arizona is perfect at home this season but just 3-3 on the road, including two straight losses, and finishes with games at home against Super Bowl champion Seattle and at San Francisco.
The Rams would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss.