The 2011 Arizona Cardinals don’t have many stars, but the ones they have combined to get them their fourth win on Sunday.
Beanie Wells had a monster game, finishing with a franchise-record 228 yards, a touchdown and a big run to set up the game-winning field goal. Larry Fitzgerald had a big catch to set up another score and Patrick Peterson’s fourth punt return score of his rookie year was the biggest play of all in a 23-20 win.
Wells’ day was probably the most encouraging for the Cardinals. He’s playing with a knee injury and he hasn’t proven all that durable to this point in his career, but Wells made the best of it on Sunday even after suffering what looked like another blow to the knee. Wells’ talent is flashing a bit more frequently in his third season and the former first-round pick had the best day of his career against the Rams.
The rest of this year is going to be about finding out what you have to build around in Arizona. Wells is increasingly looking like a worthwhile piece.
There wasn’t nearly as much to like about the Rams. Sam Bradford had another rocky day with a lost fumble balancing out his late touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd. They never throw the ball over the middle of the field, a failing that can’t be explained away entirely by the team’s mediocre receiving corps. Lance Kendricks also lost a fumble and the defense couldn’t stop Wells even though they knew there wasn’t much chance of John Skelton hurting them down the field.
Steve Spagnuolo didn’t do much to help sway those who think his time has come and gone in St. Louis. He chose a pass on third-and-one from his own 36 with about four minutes to play and then punted the ball away even though Steven Jackson had run fairly well all day. The Cardinals went down to kick the winning field goal on the next drive. At 2-8, it is hard to understand not going all out to win, especially with a defense that had been so underwhelming against Wells.