Cardinals vs Rams: St. Louis' Defense Puts a Fork in the Undefeated Cardinals
For the second week in a row, the Rams relied on Head Coach Jeff Fisher's outstanding defensive attack. The offense started the game fast and furious but disappeared down the stretch. Fortunately for St. Louis, D'Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie were playing offensive tackle for the Arizona Cardinals this evening.
The faces of Chris Long and Robert Quinn will forever be embedded in the heads of Arizona's offensive line. Together they totaled four quarterback sacks and five quarterback hits.
Coming into Thursday Night Football, the Rams had been doing a great job of "hurrying" the quarterback, but they had yet to break through and get home. Through the first four games, they had six sacks and 12 quarterback hits. And after this Week 5 contest, they had single-handedly surpassed their sack mark and were one hit away from eclipsing that total.
As a whole, the defense punished Kevin Kolb to the tune of nine sacks and 11 hits. By game's end, the defense had more sacks than Sam Bradford had completions. I'm thinking that has to be some kind of record; can someone confirm?
Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan also played huge roles in St. Louis' 17-3 victory. Jenkins finished the night with three passes defended and a near interception. The near interception would have been six points the other way if it wasn't for Larry Fitzgerald and his face-mask-grabbing antics.
Finnegan didn't stand out in coverage like Jenkins did, yet he was all over the field making every play possible. He had a total of 10 tackles, one of them being for a loss, and one sack out of the slot cornerback position.
Right now, is there a cornerback who is playing at a higher level than Finnegan? I dare you to find one.
Offensively, the Rams weren't as bad as the stat line made them out to be. Yes, Bradford struggled mightily after Danny Amendola exited the game with a broken collarbone, but they made plays when they needed them most. The Chris Givens touchdown catch was a perfect example.
Up until Givens caught that 51-yard touchdown pass, Bradford had only completed two passes since the first quarter. Going 7-of-21 never looks good at first glance, but when you go deeper you start to understand. The Rams wideouts refused to get open after No. 16 left, and the offensive line was constantly attacked by Ray Horton's pressure schemes.
It was nice to see the running game cranked up for the first time since Week 2. They tallied 111 yards on the ground. Steven Jackson finally looked alive, as he ran for 76 yards on 18 carries. Rookie running back Daryl Richardson did the rest. He looked good in pass protection and ran hard when given the opportunity.
It's clear that every aspect of this team has been hit with the Jeff Fisher effect. They ooze confidence, they know they belong, and most importantly, they don't back down. The season is long, and they have a long way to go, but hiring Coach Fisher was the best decision this team has made in the last decade.
St. Louis is now 3-2. They are above .500 for the first time since 2006.
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