The St. Louis Rams collected nine sacks running their home record to 3-0 and handing Arizona their first loss of the season in their 17-3 victory.
Despite a poor performance from Sam Bradford and just 4-14 on third-down conversations St. Louis is now 3-2. The first time they have been over .500 in six years.
St. Louis came out throwing on their first drive using play-action on their first two plays, both completions.
The first for 15 yards to Brandon Gibson. Danny Amendola made a spectacular one-handed grab while falling to the ground on the second, for 55 yards. After two plays St. Louis was on the Arizona 11 yard line.
Two plays later, from the seven, Bradford scrambled again, this time finding Lance Kendricks in the end zone for a 7-0 Rams lead.
Arizona came back with a short passing and running attack. Using 9:24 of the clock and going 3-4 on third down, culminating in a Jay Feely 34 yard field goal.
These two opening drives were the highlights for both offenses.
Greg Zuerlein added his fourth 50-plus-yard field goal in the 2nd quarter. That is already a rookie record for 50-plus-yard field goals in a season. His 4-4 streak on such kicks also ties an NFL record. No kicker has ever made their first five 50-plus-yard attempts.
His Arizona counterpart, Feely missed a 40 yard try in the second quarter.
Arizona held the ball for just under 20 minutes of the first half and had 11 first downs, but managed just three points. It would be their only points of the game. Besides the missed field goal, Arizona had just one other scoring opportunity in the 4th quarter.
Using the same formula that was successful on their first drive, the Cardinals drove to the St. Louis six, using 6:24 to do it. On 4th and 6 Kolb completed to Fitzgerald underneath. He could not shake Janoris Jenkins falling three yards short of the first down.
St. Louis was just 1-6 on third downs in the first half. Bradford was awful after the initial drive. Going just 4-17 the rest of the game, including a streak of 0-12. Guys were open, he was missing them.
One he didn't miss was the only other score of the game, a 51-yard touchdown down the left sideline to a wide open Chris Givens. Givens beat his man bad on a double move. The Cardinals' defender appeared to pull up lame with a leg injury but it was well after he was burned by the speedy Givens.
St. Louis used ball control in the second half. Stephen Jackson had 13 second half carries for 57 yards compared to five for 12 in the first half. Daryl Richardson added another seven for 28 after just two for seven in the first half.
It was a necessity to run the ball as Bradford had trouble hitting any of his targets after the first drive of the game.
Bradford ended 7-of-21 for 141 yards, two TD, one INT, and a 69.7 passer rating.
Brandon Gibson was the only Ram with more than one catch, hauling in three.
Danny Amendola left the game after diving for one of Bradford's off-target passes. He was seen on the sideline later in a sling with an apparent shoulder injury.
The real star was the Rams' defense. They harassed Kolb all game long. In addition to the nine sacks, St. Louis hit Kolb another 11 times on passing plays. Robert Quinn had three of the nine sacks and was the only Ram to record more than one.
St. Louis also dropped two interceptions, and Bradford threw a pick in the Cardinals' end zone or the game would have been a bigger blowout.
Kolb was 28 of 50 for 289 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT and a 72.8 passer rating.
Larry Fitzgerald had game highs of 15 targets, eight catches, and 92 yards. Ryan Williams managed just 33 yards on 14 carries.
Two positions not traditionally thought of as weapons have become exactly that for St. Louis. Zuerlien I have talked about extensively. His ability, to not just be accurate but to do so from such long distances, means St. Louis has a huge advantage.
At the end of games, when the Rams need a field goal they will have to travel about 10, or even 15, yards less than other teams for a legitimate shot at the win or tie. That is a weapon!
Punter Johnny Hekker has also become an effective weapon. His ability to flip field position was evident Thursday night. Punting from his own 26 his kick travelled all the way to the Cardinal 18.
In the second quarter with the ball on the Ram 18 Hekker blasted a kick all the way to the Arizona 14 and angled it right at the sideline for no return.
It was like that all game long. From the St. Louis nine to the Cardinal 30. From the St. Louis seven to the Arizona six and out of bounds. From the St. Louis 31 to the Arizona 11. He averaged 56.9 yards a kick.
These are two weapons that will never get the credit that they deserve, especially Hekker.
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