The Arizona Cardinals beat the St. Louis Rams 12-6 without scoring a single touchdown, but it’s not quite clear if they improved their playoff chances as another quarterback, this time Drew Stanton, went down with a possible season-ending injury, leaving them with just Ryan Lindley.
The Rams kept their streak of not giving up a touchdown, a third straight game. However, their offense looked terrible with the usual troubles in the running game (69 yards on 20 carries) and one Shaun Hill who isn’t such a bad quarterback, but the Rams aren’t going anywhere with him calling the shots. Falling to 6-8 in another season of ‘what if’ they were eliminated from the teams that still have a possibility of making the playoffs.
The Cardinals, despite losing Carson Palmer and now Stanton are at 11-3. The NFC is so stacked that it still doesn’t give them the clincher, but they’re very close. A stingy defense that found it quite easy to get to Hill (Two sacks, seven more hits). They’ve matched the franchise record for wins, which was achieved even before they moved to Arizona. It was also their first road win without a touchdown since 1935, when the franchise was based in Chicago.
So how did they win, besides defense? Why field goals of course. The combination of Lindley and Stanton didn’t advance them much (only 131 yards on 16-of-30) but the running game did well, getting a combined 143 yards, most of them from Stepfan Taylor and Kerwynn Williams. Combine that with two turnovers by the Rams: One interception and one Tre Mason fumble, and you get four comfortable, mostly short drives for Chandler Catanzaro to cap off with field goals.
The Cardinals were the first team this season to win a game without scoring a touchdown, and if Stanton is really out for the next two weeks and the playoffs, they might have to get used to that idea: Lindley hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in his career and Logan Thomas hasn’t shown he’s closer to doing so in the short time he’s been on the field since joining the team. The Rams are tied for the best record in the NFL, but it’s hard to take them seriously as a Super Bowl challenge.
But maybe that’s the biggest drive for this team – the lack of belief from the outside world. Patrick Paterson and others seem to thrive on that negativity, turning it into motivation and fire on the field. It’s quite frustrating watching this team play so sluggishly and novicely on offense, especially with a head coach like Bruce Arians, whose specialty is offense. But he does well with the cards he has been dealt, winning 21 games through his first 30. It’s not pretty, and it’s getting more and more difficult, but no one can argue about his success.