5 things to know after Cardinals roll Rams 30-10

Maybe this practice stuff is overrated.

Carson Palmer was not allowed to throw a pass once in workouts

last week, then turned in a near-perfect performance.

The Arizona quarterback completed 27 of 32 passes, the

second-best completion percentage in Cardinals history, in a 30-10

victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

”(Trainer) Tom Reed and his staff, they are the best in the

business,” Palmer said. ”He had a plan from Monday on, and he

stuck to it. I had 100 percent faith and trust in him that he knew

what he was doing and that he and his staff would have me ready to

play.”

Boy, did they ever.

Palmer’s 84.4 percent completion rate is second only in

franchise history to Kurt Warner’s NFL record 24 of 26 (92.3)

percent. The Rams’ vaunted pass rush sacked him just once.

Larry Fitzgerald caught 12 passes for 96 yards and a

touchdown.

The Cardinals (8-5) also scored twice on defense, when Karlos

Dansby returned an interception 23 yards for a score and John

Abraham tackled Kellen Clemens for a safety.

”Obviously they’re a much better team than they were last

year,” Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar said. ”They have a really

good coach. They bought into the system, and they’re playing

effectively.”

Here are five things learned from Arizona’s dominant

victory:

RAMS NEED TO RUN: When the Rams can’t move the ball on the

ground, they are in trouble.

When quarterback Sam Bradford went down with a season-ending

knee injury, St. Louis shifted to a run-oriented offense.

But take away Tavon Austin’s 56-yard run, which set up St.

Louis’ lone touchdown, and the Rams managed just 44 yards in 18

carries. Zac Stacy had just 25 yards in 14 tries.

The Cardinals have one of the best run defenses in the league,

and once the Rams’ ground game was stifled, the team could zero in

on Clemens.

”Once you shut down the run against a team like St. Louis that

is built on running the football, the frenzy can feed,” Arizona

coach Bruce Arians said.

ABRAHAM’S BIG DAY: Abraham had three sacks, giving him 11 for

the season.

The 14-year NFL veteran has 133 sacks, moving him past Lawrence

Taylor and Leslie O’Neal to ninth on the career list.

”Now I am trying to walk down (Michael) Strahan at five. He has

141.5,” Abraham said. ”It’s good to get a personal goal, but it’s

even better to get a win, and how we played today on both sides of

the ball and special teams showed what kind of team we can be.

That’s what impressed me the most.”

HONEY BADGER HURT: Rookie Tyrann Mathieu’s sensational season

may have come to an end with a left knee injury that Arians says

appeared to be a torn ACL.

Mathieu was hurt when he returned the free kick following

Arizona’s safety in the third quarter. He was buried in a pile of

tacklers, then got up and jogged toward the sideline.

But his knee buckled and he collapsed to the ground. Getting

consolation from teammates, he sat with his helmet off and waited

for the cart to be brought, then road it off the field.

Arians said he thought Mathieu’s play this far had made him ”a

lock” to be NFL defensive rookie of the year.

”I think no one else has played as much as he’s played, and all

the positions he’s played,” Arians said.

The coach said he wished the Rams had kicked the ball to

Peterson.

FITGERALD WAS PROLIFIC: Fitzgerald hadn’t caught this many

passes in a game since he matched his career best with 13 against

Seattle on Oct. 18, 2009.

Arians said there was no special plan to throw to Fitgerald.

”We throw it where they will let us throw it,” Arians said.

”Carson was spot on it.”

Fitzgerald has 10 touchdown catches this season, becoming the

ninth player in NFL history with five seasons of double-digit TD

receptions.

RAMS ARE DONE: With the loss, St. Louis officially is out of

playoff contention and almost certainly is headed for a last place

in the NFC West.

It’s a season that never really had a chance after Bradford was

hurt.

”I think the thing we want to see now is finish the season

strong,” Clemens said. ”We want to see improvement. We’ll get

back to work. We’re eliminated, but we still have to play

them.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org