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Budda Baker As Weapon X, And Rams Aftermath

Are you human, Budda Baker?

"Yeah," the safety said. Then he grinned. "Or maybe I'm not."

It's easy to get big with the narrative of the All-Pro's return to the field Sunday when he hurt his ankle bad enough that coach Kliff Kingsbury had said a week ago he had no chance to play against the Rams. But then he did in the 27-17 win, and if "Hard Knocks" needed another storyline in a week full of them, Baker grabbing an interception to cap the story was fitting.

"We call him 'Weapon X,' " running back James Conner said with a grin. "He's Wolverine."

Baker's return felt more than just about Baker's return, though. It felt like a microcosm of where the Cardinals are at this point, having been left with "zero percent chance" as coach Kliff Kingsbury had said (about Baker, not about his team, but that sentiment was out there) and then managing otherwise.

The Cardinals have a hell of a test coming, in Mexico City on a Monday night against an improving 49ers team, not knowing if they will have Kyler Murray and not having Zach Ertz and that doesn't include a host of other injury-related questions. But the Mexico game would have meant nothing without the Rams' win first, and like Budda, they made it happen.

"I felt like I was good enough to play," Baker said. "I'm not who I truly am (when healthy), but I'm good enough to get a 'W.' "

-- The Ertz thing is something to watch. It was heartbreaking to see his tears as he came off the field with his knee injury. He would've broken the franchise record for tight end catches in a season – maybe even Sunday – had he not gone down in the first quarter. ESPN was reporting he will miss several games. With Maxx Williams still trying to make his own issues work on the practice squad, rookie Trey McBride is about to have the spotlight on him.

-- Myjai Sanders had his best game of his rookie season. On one sequence early he had a tackle-for-loss and then a pass rush forced Rams QB John Wolford into an incompletion. Later, he had a strip-sack.

"The best is yet to come, to be honest," Sanders said, declining to get too excited about his big day. "This isn't my day. I did it for the team."

-- Sanders was taken with the extra draft pick the Cardinals got by sending their first-rounder to Baltimore for Hollywood Brown. That trade is trending up for the Cards.

-- J.J. Watt was not happy and he shouldn't have been. Sanders had the strip-sack, and the ball bounced perfectly to Watt, who could've walked into the end zone – until referee Clete Blakeman blew the whistle and said Rams QB John Wolford's arm was going forward. It wasn't, replay proved that, and while the Cardinals eventually got the touchdown, this defense deserved a score with the way it was playing Sunday.

"He screwed up," Watt said. "He apologized and there's nothing you can do except say sorry."

Watt later got a delay of game penalty on a key drive because he spiked the ball after what he thought might be another fumble, but he acknowledged "I was just frustrated with the whole situation."

"There were a few holding calls he wasn't calling," Watt said. "I like Clete. He's a good referee. But today was a frustrating one for me."

-- A.J. Green had two catches, but they were both impressive grabs and one converted a fourth down and the other scored a touchdown and after everything of the last few weeks, it made a statement he can still help.

-- Cornerback Antonio Hamilton, starting in place of Byron Murphy, had a career-high 11 tackles and two pass breakups. He had an excellent game.

-- I understand the passions and emotions, but I gotta say, watching Twitter as the game unfolded, it is crazy that the Cardinals were doing good things Sunday and yet people instead want to argue who is poor at their job and what Kyler can't or can't do and what Colt can or can't do and what Kliff does or does not do for this team. C'mon. I can be as glass-half-empty in life as the next guy, but no one needs to angry this much.

-- Kingsbury said guard Cody Ford had been dealing with Covid earlier in the week when he was listed with an illness. That's the reason he split time with Rashaad Coward (with Coward getting the bulk of the snaps.)

-- Colt McCoy has completed at least 70 percent of his passes in all three starts he has won with the Cardinals. The fourth-down backbreaking 26-yard pass to Rondale Moore – nursing a seven-point lead --was perfection.

That's it for tonight. Mexico City awaits.

Safety Budda Baker smiles after the Cardinals beat the Rams at SoFi Stadium on November 13, 2022.