Well, after a rough first quarter, it was all Cardinals in St. Louis today. Scoring 24 points in the second quarter and taking a 24-7 halftime lead, all the Cardinals had to do at that point was hold court and maintain the large lead. Job done.
After Antrel Rolle’s 40 yard interception, the complexity of the game seemed to turn. St. Louis had all the momentum in the world after an 80 yard TD pass. That was the best play St. Louis would see the rest of the day. Mind you, the Cardinals left points out there on the field. They had a sure FG taken away from a Deuce Lutui penalty. They had another drive stall that easily could have turned into a TD. Then there was the first drive of the game where they had first and goal at the 2 and came up with nothing.
Rookie Tim Hightower got his first start of the season, going over 100 yards rushing and scoring on a 30 yard TD run in the second quarter. Edgerrin James did not play. Hightower carried the ball 22 times for 109 yards.
St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger looked good early, of course helped out by Derek Stanley on an 80 yard pass for TD, however after that he disappeared. Reappearing today was receiver Tory Holt. Pretty much a guy being phased out of the Rams offensive scheme, Holt injected at least a little life into the offense. However it was not nearly enough to help make a comeback on the Cardinals.
Kurt Warner continued his touchdown pass streak and threw for, so far, an NFL week high of 342 yards. The difference today was the Cardinals found some balance. Even back J.J. Arrington got into the mix with 62 yards rushing.
If there is one negative to look at is the continued problem the Cardinals are having with penalties. They had 10 more of them today, including mental mistakes by Deuce Lutui and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who both scored themselves personal foul penalties. Lutui’s killed a touchdown drive and Rodgers-Cromartie’s allowed the Rams to drive closer to an eventual touchdown. Those are the type of mistakes the Cardinals MUST reduce if they want to get the playoffs and make any noise at all.
Next week the Cards will come home for a Monday Nighter against the 49ers. This is also the first in three straight divisional games. If they win next week and then put up a “w” in Seattle, then the hope will truly be alive for a divisional championship. Until then, I will temper my hopes. Just remember how fast things can turn. As frustrating as last week was, this was as equally as gratifying that in spite of a poor first quarter and some mental errors, they were able to come away with a divisional road win against a team that many thought were turning a corner themselves.