The Arizona Cardinals quest for an NFC West championship rolled on Sunday as they went back to St. Louis and knocked off the Rams 27-3. With the victory, their sixth-straight, the Cards improved to 10-2. It marks their third-consecutive season with double-digit wins. St. Louis falls to 4-8.
Here are five things we learned in the win.
1. Back-to-back(s)…Nobody really knew what to expect Sunday with Bruce Arians’ offense working without Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington but like we’ve seen so many times with this team the next man, or in this case men, stepped up. Rookie David Johnson and recently promoted Kerwynn Williams more than filled the void. Johnson became the only rookie, along with Gaye Sayers, to rush for at least four touchdowns, catch four touchdown passes and return a kickoff for a touchdown in a season. He was most impressive picking up blitzes and staying sound in pass protection. Williams scored his first career touchdown on a pretty 35-yard scamper up the middle in the third quarter.
2. Bettcher Bottom Dollar…Defensive coordinator James Bettcher is making the Bird Gang forget about Todd Bowles. The “Red Sea” engulfed an overmatched and inconsistent Nick Foles. The former University of Arizona star was just 15-35 for 146 yards and an interception. The defense also got a bit of revenge against Todd Gurley who rushed for 146 yards just over two months ago at University of Phoenix Stadium. The rookie managed only 41 yards on nine carries, 34 of those came on one play.
3. Double Dip…Not only do the Cards likely have the fastest group of wide receivers, they may have the deepest. John Brown (113) and Michael Floyd (104) combined for 217 of Carson Palmer’s 356 yards through the air. Larry Fitzgerald chipped in 55 yards on eight receptions (11 targets) and in the process reeled in his 1,000th career catch. He’s the youngest (32) in league history to achieve the milestone.
4. Rest For Success…”Sleepy” could be one way to describe parts of the game inside the Edward Jones Dome. Despite the Cards first-half red zone struggles you never got the impression the game was ever in jeopardy. Carson Palmer ended the afternoon with a hat on joking with teammates as backup Drew Stanton finished things off. The less hits Palmer and other starters took late, the better. Arizona will be preparing for a good team on a short week as they host the Minnesota Vikings (8-4) Thursday night in Glendale.
5. No Letdowns…Arians’ team didn’t fall for the trap: two inner-division road games against below-.500 teams. Neither last week’s win over San Francisco or Sunday’s in St. Louis was close to perfect but nobody will be complaining. Both wins are a mark of a mature, focused team. The Cards retained their comfortable three-game lead in the NFC West and will now head home for three of their last four before entering the playoffs.