Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb takes a hit from Rams defensive end Chris Long after completing a pass during Thursday night's 17-3 Rams' win in St. Louis.
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have a few days off now, and after Thursday night's road game against the Rams, it probably couldn't come at a better time.
"We have a lot of guys nicked up, we have a lot of guys that need to get healthy, we have a lot of film study to do, we have a lot of things to fix," weary guard Daryn Colledge said after the Cardinals lost their first game of the season, 17-3, at St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome. "Luckily, we have a lot of days off to do it.
"Hopefully we use this as a springboard. I don't know if we bought into our own hype or what, but we obviously weren't ready to play tonight."
The Cardinals (4-1) lost in St. Louis for the first time since 2004, and it was painful in every sense of the word. Physically, the already beat-up Cards were hit hard often by coach Jeff Fisher's new-look Rams (3-2), including running back Ryan Williams leaving the game late with a left shoulder injury on a play that looked much worse.
Williams said other than a sore shoulder he was fine and was ready to go back in. Quarterback Kevin Kolb also said he was fine, despite getting sacked nine more times and getting hit countless others after attempting 50 passes – completing 28 for 289 yards – trying desperately to get a stagnant offense going.
The pain went beyond the hits, though. It was the missed chances, especially in a first half that featured multiple drops, multiple misfires by Kolb to open receivers and a missed 40-yard field goal by kicker Jay Feely that might have changed the course of later offensive choices after the Rams built a two-touchdown lead.
"There's probably a whole laundry list of things we need to get better at," coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
Kolb considered the offensive possibilities in the first half and grimaced. "Oh man, it was sickening," he said. "That's what changes the game."
What will inevitably eat at the Cardinals will be what could have been, since the Rams did very little offensively to pull away. Quarterback Sam Bradford looked great on the first drive, completing 4-of-5 passes for a quick eye-opening touchdown drive that shook the Cards' defense awake a little later than they would have liked.
It didn't hurt the Cards that the Rams' top receiver, Danny Amendola – who made a spectacular 44-yard catch over Patrick Peterson on the first drive – left soon after with a shoulder injury. It changed the Rams' offense.
The rest of the game, Bradford completed just 3-of-16 passes and the Cardinals stayed in the game despite their offensive woes. But one of Bradford's completions was enough. The 51-yard bomb to Chris Givens, beating cornerback Greg Toler on third-and-long, scored a touchdown that put the Cards in a position from which they couldn't rally.
"I give them credit, they came out on the first drive and put us off-balance," linebacker Daryl Washington said.
"It's frustrating when you give up the long balls."
The Cardinals started moving the ball late, but forced to go for touchdowns in the red-zone, they were twice denied on fourth downs inside the Rams' 20. The pass protection was under the microscope, although Kolb acknowledged that any team throwing 50 passes is in a bad situation against opposing rushers.
"I won't know what happened until I watch the film," Colledge said. "You can't throw it 50 times and not give up sacks."
The Rams tied a team record with the nine sacks.
"We have to get back to the protection we had the first couple of games," Whisenhunt said.
The Cardinals don't play again for 10 days, when they host Buffalo. That will be time well spent.
"There are a lot of things we need to discuss in the locker room," Williams said. "There are a lot of things we need to do better.
"But we are still happy to be 4-1. We are still the same team that was 4-0."