While many were looking for a battle of quarterbacks, the Rams-Cardinals match up proved to be all about defense. St. Louis grabbed its first win of the season by topping Arizona 17-12 on the road. In the only offense the Cardinals were able to muster came off the accurate foot of place-kicker Neil Rackers, who hit four field goals.
Marc Bulger was 18-of-29 with 216 yards passing with a touchdown and interception, while his former mentor, Kurt Warner, was 29-of-42 for 327 yards no touchdowns and an interception. Warner had a hard time holding on to the ball on Sunday, as well, dropping it three times, but only one was recovered by the Rams.
The Rams drew first blood, scoring on a seven-play, 80-yard drive to open the game. 38 of Stephen Jackson’s 93 yards of rushing came on that drive, which culminated in a 19-yard pass from Bulger to Torry Holt.
The Cardinals’ only offense in the first half were two field goals from Neil Rackers from 26 and 29 yards out. Jeff Wilkins hit a 29-yarder to put the finishing touches on a 10-play, 69-yard drive. St. Louis led 10-6 at the half.
Rackers struck again with a 48-yard boot on the Cardinals’ first drive of the second half, to cut the Rams’ lead to 10-9. But that slim lead only lasted another 4:38, as St. Louis engineered an eight-play, 76-yard drive on the next possession that ended when Jackson raced up the left end from seven yards out for a touchdown. The extra point from Wilkins made it 17-9.
After a final Rackers’ field goal to make it 17-12, the Cardinals got no closer, however they almost did. In their final drive, Arizona got the ball down to the Rams five-yard line, but couldn’t get in thanks to a Kurt Warner sack and a false start penalty.
With the win the Rams improved to 1-1, wile the Cardinals fell to 0-2.
Since Dick Vermeil has been in Kansas City, responsibility of pulling out late wins has rested squarely on the shoulders of the Chiefs’ offense. On Sunday night, the defense was able to cover a costly mistake by the offense in a 23-17 win over the Raiders in Oakland.