Cardinals exploited Rams' tackle situation. Defensive end Calais Campbell ended the Rams' first drive by shedding left tackle Adam Goldberg and bringing down Steven Jackson behind the line of scrimmage. Outside linebacker Sam Acho ended the Rams' second drive by beating Goldberg decisively for a fumble-forcing sack. Acho, a rookie fourth-round choice, finished the game with two sacks. That's great for him and an encouraging sign for the team, but the Rams' personnel issues played a huge role in Acho's success. The Rams were without both starting tackles and backup Mark LeVoir. Acho beat Goldberg for a sack in the red zone before halftime, another key play. These were mismatches.
Don't blame Keith for Long's sack. Right tackle Brandon Keith shoved the Rams' Chris Long well past the pocket on a first-down play late in the first quarter. Long collected a sack anyway because quarterback John Skelton held the ball too long.
Colledge key on Wells' runs. Left guard Daryn Colledge pulled to his left and sealed linebacker Brady Poppinga to spring Beanie Wells' 71-yard run in the second quarter. Colledge pulled and took out middle linebacker James Laurinaitis to spring Wells' 3-yard run on third-and-4 in the third quarter (I initially thought Wells got the first down). Colledge pulled right and took out Laurinaitis to spring Wells' 53-yard run in the fourth quarter, with fullback Anthony Sherman blocking Poppinga to the same side.
Larry Fitzgerald is not eight feet tall. Skelton threw high for Fitzgerald the first three times he targeted the Cardinals' 6-foot-3 receiver. Not just a little high, either. Skelton missed Fitzgerald by feet, not inches. Fitzgerald slammed his hand on the ground following the third missed chance, this one a short throw from a clean pocket near the goal line. Skelton's fourth pass to Fitzgerald sailed high and behind its target, causing the usually graceful Fitzgerald to skid along the turf on his rear end as he applied the brakes, Flintstones-style. Skelton missed other receivers high as well. Instead of trying Patrick Peterson on offense, as the Cardinals did without success Sunday, they ought to consider the 6-8 Campbell.
Daryl Washington is everywhere. The Cardinals' second-year inside linebacker flashes Pro Bowl ability. He tackled Jackson after gains of zero, 1 and 1 yards, and again after seven yards on a third-and-14 play. He also tackled tight end Lance Kendricks after 12 yards on third-and-17. Washington was nearly too aggressive in breaking up another pass to Kendricks on a third-and-1 play.