EARTH CITY, Mo. -- By the time the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams met in Week 10, the Rams had already established themselves as a team capable of jumping out to a big first-half lead but failing to finish games when the opportunity arose.
So it wasn't a big surprise when, once again, the Rams jumped to a 14-10 lead they would carry into the fourth quarter. But the offense, still led at that point by quarterback Austin Davis, was unable to get anything going in the second half to help put the Cardinals away. After Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton connected with receiver John Brown for a 48-yard touchdown and a 17-14 lead, the Rams looked to respond with a drive of their own.
Davis had wideout Chris Givens open deep down the right sideline but badly under threw the ball. Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson intercepted it but the Rams defense promptly got the stop it needed. The Rams took over again needing only a field goal to tie it at 17.
Three plays into the drive, Davis threw a pass intended for receiver Kenny Britt that probably should have been caught but glanced off Britt's hands as Peterson tipped it to himself with some quick reflexes. Peterson pulled it in and raced 30 yards for a touchdown and essentially killed any chance the Rams had of making a comeback.
Fast starts gone to waste weren't the only trend the Rams had that continued in this game and on this play. The Rams allowed more return touchdowns than any team in the league in 2014 and had done it in previous games at inopportune times, namely in losses to the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. In fact, Davis would cough up a fumble on the Rams' next possession that Cardinals cornerback Antonio Cromartie returned for another touchdown to provide the final 31-14 margin.
The loss dropped the Rams to 3-6 on the year but it also doubled as the final opportunity for Davis as the starter. Coach Jeff Fisher steadfastly stuck by Davis after the game and even doubled down in his news conference the next day. But Fisher changed his mind that night and went back to veteran Shaun Hill.
To that point, Davis had done some good things and appeared capable of at least a backup job somewhere in the league but as the defenses got tougher, it was clear he wasn't the long term answer. After Fisher went back to Hill, Davis never got another substantive opportunity.