In my opinion this was a must win game. Going into today, Arizona had a 2 game lead in the NFC West over the Rams. A Rams win would put them just a game behind, but the Rams didn't show up after the 1st quarter.
The Rams defense came up big early with a goal-line stand including stuffing Kurt Warner on a quarterback sneak on 4th and Goal from the 1 yard line. This gave the Rams a little momentum as St. Louis took a 7-0 lead over the Cardinals in the 1st quarter on Marc Bulger's 80 yard touchdown pass to speedy receiver Derek Stanley. It would be Stanley's first career catch, and the Ram's lone highlight.
The picture above sums up the rest of the game, as St. Louis would give up 31 consecutive points including a 24-point 2nd quarter. If that doesn't sound bad enough, the Rams were outgained by the Cardinals 229-18 in the period alone. Three big plays contributed to Arizona's scoring. Antrel Rolle intercepted Marc Bulger and ran it in for a 40 yard pick-6. Arizona rookie runningback Tim Hightower scampered across the goal-line on a 30 yard touchdown run after Fakhir Brown mistackled him near the line of scrimmage. Jerheme Urban made a sensational catch after Jonathan Wade bobbled an interception that went right into Urban's arms as he later ran 56 yards for the score. Rams mistackles and the inability to finish the play helped cap off the Cardinals 24-point quarter. It was a very sloppy quarter in my opinion, one of the worst I've seen in a while. Before Jerheme Urban's touchdown the Rams had the ball with 1:45 left before halftime trailing 17-7 at their own 15 yard line. Bulger would throw 3 incompletions, including a 3rd down dropped pass by Steven Jackson, that took off a total of 15 seconds from the play clock. Arizona didn't have to waste any of their timeouts to stop the clock. If St. Louis goes into halftime only down 10, they might have came out stronger in the 2nd Half, but Urban's touchdown was the nail in the coffin.
Rams Player of the Game
There aren't many heroes here to choose from today. Marc Bulger had 3 turnovers, Steven Jackson was ineffective racking up only 17 rushing yards on 7 carries, and the defense was a sieve. If anything it should go to the Cardinal's Kurt Warner for his stellar performance of 342 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
However, I am going to pick Derek Stanley. He caught his first career pass and it was a memorable 80 yard touchdown that gave the Rams a short-lived lead. I have the ability to say that I attended the same school as Stanley, UW-Whitewater.
Week 10 Matchup
St. Louis heads back to the east coast with a (2-6) record to take on the New York Jets whom are (5-3) after defeating the Buffalo Bills 26-17. The Rams are three games behind division leading Arizona, so if there is any chance they can stay in the hunt for the playoffs its going to be a tough task going against the Jets.