Led by impressive passing from Carson Palmer and another strong outing from their stout defense, the Cardinals defeated the visiting Rams 30-10 on Sunday in Arizona.
However, in victory, the Cardinals lost key rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu to a left knee injury suffered on the return of a third-quarter free kick. Mathieu was carted off the field as he tried to run onto the sideline after being tackled on the return, which occurred as Arizona got the ball back after a safety.
Palmer completed 27-of-32 passes for 269 yards and one TD for the Cardinals, who improved their record to 8-5. They are one game behind San Francisco (9-4) for the final NFC wild-card spot.
Palmer’s top target Sunday was wideout Larry Fitzgerald, who hauled in 12 passes for 96 yards, including a seven-yard second-quarter TD.
Cardinals tailbacks Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington combined for 88 yards on 28 carries, with each back scoring a touchdown.
The Cardinals’ defense helped break the game open in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
First, linebacker Karlos Dansby intercepted Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens and scored a 24-yard touchdown 18 seconds into the third quarter. Then, on the Rams’ third drive of the quarter, Cardinals outside linebacker John Abraham sacked Clemens in the endzone for a safety, extending Arizona’s lead to 23-3 with 9:10 left in the third.
The Rams would cut the lead to 23-10 with 14:57 left in regulation on a one-yard TD run by Zac Stacy. However, St. Louis (5-8) would get no closer.
Rams rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin appeared to suffer an injury upon being tackled at the end of a 56-yard run that set up Stacy’s touchdown. While Austin would return to the game, the Rams would later rule him out for the rest of the contest.
Clemens completed 16-of-27 passes for 181 yards for the Rams. He was intercepted twice. The Cardinals outgained St. Louis 369-257, converted 8-of-14 third downs and held the ball for a little more than 35 minutes.