Cardinals end Rams' shutout streak, win 12-6

BY foxsports • December 11, 2014

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams have been very rough on Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks. It hasn't helped the bottom line.

Though Drew Stanton was carted off with a right knee injury, just like Carson Palmer was a month ago, the Rams couldn't get enough done on offense.

"At the end of the game they were down to their third-string guy," defensive end Chris Long said after a 12-6 loss Thursday night. "They've got enough players that they made more plays than us."

Chandler Catanzaro kicked four field goals and the Cardinals overcame the loss of quarterback Drew Stanton with stifling defense, getting a sack and fumble recovery from Larry Foote.

"When people go down, we don't even ask how bad it is," Foote said. "We just keep rolling. We definitely don't want our quarterback getting hurt. We just say on the defensive side, 'Let's hold them.'"

Coach Bruce Arians said Stanton had a previous knee injury so he will need an MRI exam to determine the extent of the damage. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald seemed to believe Stanton would be out a while, and added about Ryan Lindley, "We're going to rally around him."

"We're a resilient group," Fitzgerald added. "We've got a great defense, too."

The Rams (6-8) were held to Greg Zuerlein's two short field goals and had five three-and-out series in the third quarter. Catanzaro's 23-yard field goal early in the second quarter ended nine quarters of shutout defense by St. Louis, which beat Washington and Oakland by a combined 76-0 the previous two weeks.

"Our defense kept us in the game," tight end Jared Cook. "We couldn't capitalize on them flipping the field for us."

It's the third time this season the Rams were held to single-digit scoring, and first in five games since Shaun Hill recaptured the quarterback job.

"Just mental errors, which is the bad part," Hill said. "Physical errors are going to happen. We're humans. But on a short week, we have to be dialed in that much more and not have the mental errors and the mental breakdowns."

Lindley was ineffective in his first appearance since 2012 in relief of Stanton, who injured his right knee on rookie Aaron Donald's sack in the third quarter, but it didn't matter. Palmer sustained a season-ending knee injury during their 31-14 victory over St. Louis at home last month.

The Cardinals (11-3) entered tied for the top overall record in the NFC and will clinch a playoff spot if Sunday's Dallas-Philadelphia game doesn't end in a tie, or a Detroit loss combined with a Green Bay victory.

"I thought our defense played well enough for us to win," coach Jeff Fisher said, but quickly added a turnover would have been nice. "In situations like this, when your offense is struggling, your defense has got to make a play. We were close."

The Rams were eliminated from playoff contention.

Kerwynn Williams was the Cardinals' offensive standout with 75 yards on 15 carries. Stanton was 12 of 20 for 109 yards and Lindley was 4 of 10 for 30 yards.

Rams players had no apparent protests relating to unrest in nearby Ferguson. Two weeks ago, five players did the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" pose coming out of the tunnel during pregame introductions, and last week players wrote "I Can't Breathe!!!" on wrist bands and cleats.

Rams rookie Tre Mason's fumble gave the Cardinals a short field that set up Catanzaro's first field goal. Frostee Rucker punched the ball free and Foote recovered at the St. Louis 27.

It was the first score given up by the Rams since Nov. 23, when San Diego scored the winning touchdown with just over 8 minutes left in a 27-24 victory.

Michael Floyd' 49-yard reception set up Catanzaro's 44-yard field goal that put the Cardinals up 6-3 midway through the second. Catanzaro made kicks of 51 yards and 46 yards in the second half

Both teams had key defenders active coming off ankle woes. Arizona's Antonio Cromartie and St. Louis' Long had been questionable.

Arizona committed five penalties on its first two possessions, twice wiping out big gains. Shaun Hill was 4 for 4 with completions of 21 yards to Benny Cunningham on a screen and Cory Harkey for 16 yards to set up Zuerlein's 24-yard field goal in the first. Zuerlein missed an extra-point kick and two field goals inside the 40 last week.

Last month, Arizona outscored the Rams 21-0 in the fourth quarter, with two defensive touchdowns, to come from four points down to win 31-14. After that game, St. Louis benched Austin Davis in favor of Hill.

Notes: Fitzgerald was held in check against a team he's dominated with seven receptions for just 30 yards. Still, at 31 he became the youngest player to 900 career catches. In 22 games against St. Louis, he has 128 receptions and 16 TDs, most against any opponent. ... The Rams led at halftime of their previous five home games this season, two of them losses. ... The Cardinals took the lead in the series, 36-35-2. ... Arizona is 7-0 at home and 4-3 on the road. ... The Rams entered with consecutive wins for the first time this season and are 3-4 at home.

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