All week, Ken Whisenhunt wouldn’t estimate how many carries Beanie Wells would have in the running back’s first game back since Sept. 23.
It didn’t take long, however, to find out that the Cardinals wouldn’t ease Wells back into the rotation slowly.
He had seven carries during the Cardinals’ first drive, capped with a 1-yard dive into the end zone. But Wells wasn’t done. He finished with 48 yards on 17 carries and showed there weren’t any lasting effects from the turf toe injury that landed Wells on Injured Reserve – Designated to return list, which mandated he miss eight weeks.
Wells put the Cardinals ahead 14-7 in the second quarter after bouncing outside for a 12-yard touchdown, before the Cardinals lost, 31-17, to St. Louis at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“It was great to have him back,” guard
Wells said his stamina wasn’t an issue.
“You definitely get tired quicker when you ain’t been out there a while, just when your adrenaline gets going and the anxiety, but it’s all right,” Wells said. “Just got to get my football legs back.”
Wells said he felt rusty at first, but once he got that first hit, “it was one of those feelings that, to me, is the best feeling in the world.”
“You knew that he was going to be a little bit rusty,” Whisenhunt said. “There were a couple of runs that it didn’t seem like he had his feet underneath him because we had some holes early but he did a nice job.”
RAMS TAKE AWAY FITZGERALD
It was the Rams’ plan all week to take away
At first, however, it didn’t look like St. Louis’ strategy was working. Fitzgerald caught three passes for 31 yards on the Cardinals’ first drive, which culminated with a Wells’ touchdown run. But that was it for Fitzgerald. He was targeted nine more times Sunday and couldn’t haul in another pass.
“They were going to use him a lot coming into this game so our main focus was to take away Fitzgerald, get our hands on him, disguise coverage and try to confuse the rookie quarterback as much as possible,” Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins said.
Three of those passes intended for Fitzgerald were intercepted, two ran back for touchdowns. And another sailed high and away while Fitzgerald came back.
“I felt like we really controlled the line of scrimmage” on the first drive, Fitzgerald said. “We were able to push them off the ball and we were able to connect on some passes and spread it around. I was really excited about the way things started. (Cardinals quarterback) Ryan (Lindley) was sharp, our defense was playing well. I was excited with the way things started. We hadn’t started fast in a long time.”
GROVES A CONSTANT
Groves hit Sam Bradford hard enough late in the second quarter to knock the quarterback out of the game for a play.
“It was a legal hit, nice hit. I felt it was needed at the time,” Groves said. “By the grace of God I was in the right place at the right time. Did my job and tried to make a play.”
In the third quarter, Groves was down for a few minutes because of a stinger, but returned to strip Bradford on a bull rush off the left corner a few plays later.
“Something I had been setting up him all game as well as last week because they watch film,” Groves said. “Last game I was back there too but you guys just didn’t see it.”
BETHEL INITIATED WITH TOUCHDOWN
“I was right there, had good coverage on him, got my head around, saw the ball, tipped the ball a little bit and looked back and saw him dive for it and make the catch,” Bethel said. “I ain’t gonna lie, it kind of sucks to give up a touchdown on your debut of being out there.”
Despite experiencing a range of emotions after giving up the go-ahead touchdown, Bethel believes he has the skills to play in the NFL.
“After that play, you know the courage I had, I feel I can play in this league,” Bethel said. “I just got to keep working on this and get better.”
PILING IT ON
Adam Snyder saw a pile atop Wells growing and he came to his back’s defense, except the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Snyder dove a moment too late and was flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty in the first quarter. A play later, Rams safety Quintin Mikell was flagged 15 yards for the same penalty.
Has Snyder seen that penalty flagged twice in one game?
“Uh, no,” Snyder said with a chuckle. “It’s a rivalry and they’re a division opponent. It’s like that when we play anybody from the NFC West. I don’t mean any harm by it. It’s just part of football. Unfortunately, I was a little bit too late on the pile.”
Snyder apologized to Whisenhunt and offensive line coach Russ Grimm after the play, and told the two he won’t do it again. But Snyder was surprised the play was flagged at all.
“I thought it was late,” he said. “The guy’s flag came out late. What are you going to do?”
PETERSON PICKS FOURTH
On his fourth interception of the season, cornerback
“I got my eyes back to the quarterback and had an opportunity to make a big play on the ball,” Peterson said.
Peterson had two interceptions last season.
RAMS CORNER MAKES HISTORY
Janoris Jenkins was a thorn in
“I’m glad I broke (the old mark), Jenkins said.
Through studying Lindley on film, Jenkins knew the rookie quarterback liked to get rid of the pass quickly. So Jenkins broke on a quick out to
“You know the crowd will kind of tell you when to turn your head and look for the ball,” Jenkins said. “So the crowd started yelling. I just turned around and made a play on the ball.”