ST. LOUIS (AP) — Even before Sam Bradford snapped out of it, the St. Louis Rams had enough points.
Their fast-improving defense saw to that.
Bradford busted a lengthy slump with a 52-yard touchdown pass to rookie Chris Givens for a two-TD cushion and Robert Quinn had three of the Rams’ nine sacks on Kevin Kolb to keep the previously unbeaten Arizona Cardinals in check in a 17-3 victory Thursday.
Arizona (4-1) scored at least 20 points in each of its first four games, but had no luck containing a pass rush that had totaled just six sacks on the year, and got stopped twice inside the 20 in the final minutes. The Rams also had a strong defensive game last week in a 19-13 victory over Seattle, also at home.
Lance Kendricks caught a 7-yard TD pass in the first quarter and Greg Zuerlein kicked a 53-yard field goal in the second quarter for the Rams (3-2), who are 3-0 at home and ended Arizona’s seven-game winning streak in St. Louis — the Cardinals’ home before leaving for the desert in 1988.
The Rams totaled two victories last year but so far have executed a quick turnaround under new coach Jeff Fisher. They’re 3-0 at home for the first time since 2003, when they were unbeaten in the Edward Jones Dome and they’re above .500 for the first time since they were 4-3 on Nov. 4, 2006.
Bradford had been 3 for 16 for 25 yards and an end-zone interception since the opening drive, often missing on his receivers by a lot. Undoubtedly, he missed Danny Amendola, sidelined in the second quarter with a right shoulder injury on a diving attempt that was initially ruled a 22-yard catch for a first down but overturned after the Cardinals challenged.
Amendola perhaps hinted at the extent of the injury when he flung his helmet, with his left hand, while walking in a tunnel.
Arizona’s loss leaves Atlanta and Houston as the only remaining unbeaten teams. The Cardinals were still the St. Louis Cardinals the last time they were 4-0, in 1974. Known as the “Big Red,” those Cardinals won their first seven that season en route to a 10-4 record, before losing in the first round of the playoffs to Minnesota.
The loss was only the Cardinals’ third in 14 games since starting the 2011 season 1-6.