Chandler Catanzaro made four field goals as the Arizona Cardinals moved closer to clinching a playoff spot despite not scoring a touchdown in a 12-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Thursday.
The Cardinals (11-3) now own the league’s best record and can secure a postseason berth this Sunday as long as the Dallas-Philadelphia game doesn’t end in a tie. Arizona can also clinch with a Detroit loss against Minnesota and a Green Bay win or tie in Buffalo.
Arizona, however, suffered another injury at quarterback at the hands of the St. Louis defense as Drew Stanton left the game with a right knee injury in the third quarter. He was carted off to the locker room and did not return.
Stanton, who was 12-of-20 for 109 yards before exiting, started his fifth straight game after Carson Palmer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a 31-14 win over the Rams on Nov. 9.
Ryan Lindley took over for Stanton and completed four of his 10 passes for 30 yards. Larry Fitzgerald (31 years, 102 days old) became the youngest player in NFL history to compile 900 career receptions after finishing with seven catches for 30 yards.
“I’m glad we don’t have to play the Rams anymore,” Fitzgerald said. “Both times we played them they banged our quarterbacks up.”
Arizona’s 11 wins ties a franchise record which was also set in 1925 and 1948.
Shaun Hill threw for 229 yards and an interception on 20-of-39 passing and Stedman Bailey caught five passes for 74 yards for the Rams (6-8).
St. Louis, which was coming off back-to-back shutouts of Washington and Oakland, turned in another solid defensive performance, limiting the Cardinals to just 274 total yards and 13 first downs, but lacked a spark on offense.
“It’s hard to win football games when you don’t score touchdowns,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said. “The difference in this game was our inability to get the ball in the end zone.”
The Rams finally converted a second-half first down as Bailey hauled in a 38- yard strike down to Arizona’s 39 with 10:10 to play in the fourth quarter. St. Louis took the ball down to the 1-yard line, but Hill threw the ball away on third down and Greg Zuerlein was true from 19 yards out for a 12-6 game with 6:07 remaining.
Kenny Britt caught a 22-yard dart between two defenders and Jared Cook’s 10- yard catch moved the Rams to midfield. Hill hit Bailey for a 7-yard gain on second down, but his pass intended for Chris Givens on fourth down was knocked down by Jerraud Powers and the Cardinals took over on downs.
After Arizona punted on its initial drive, Benjamin Cunningham’s 19-yard catch moved the Rams into their opponents’ territory and Zuerlein kicked a 24-yard field goal for an early St. Louis lead.
Frostee Rucker knocked the ball loose from Tre Mason and Larry Foote pounced on it to give Arizona the ball with 1:57 to play in the first quarter. Kerwynn Williams picked up a first down on an 11-yard run. The drive stalled at the Rams’ 5, but Catanzaro knotted the score with a 23-yarder.
Michael Floyd outran Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins down the left sideline and made a 49-yard grab to set up an eventual 44-yard Catanzaro make for a 6-3 lead with 8:25 to play in the first half.
The Rams punted the ball away on their first possession of the third quarter to Tedd Ginn Jr., who navigated his way down the field 42 yards to the St. Louis 42. Arizona, however, couldn’t capitalize and gained just two yards before punting.
On their next drive, the Cardinals benefited from a 36-yard pass interference penalty that moved them to their opponents’ 28. Two plays later, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald sacked Stanton for an 8-yard loss. The Cardinals signal-caller stayed on the ground before hobbling off the field.
Lindley took over and delivered a 6-yard pass to Floyd, which helped set up Catanzaro’s 51-yard field goal midway through the third.
Arizona went up 12-3 when Catanzaro nailed a 46-yarder with 10:48 to play.