Wide receiver John "Smokey" Brown dives to make his game-winning 48-yard touchdown catch during Sunday's 31-14 win over the Rams.
Drew Stanton's vision was obscured, but by now he's watched this movie enough to know the ending.
Rookie wide receiver John Brown has played in nine career NFL games and on Sunday caught his fourth go-ahead, game-winning touchdown. The latest iteration started from the Rams' 48 on a 1st-and-10 with 7:49 left in the fourth quarter, where he slipped
behind the secondary and twisted his body in mid-air for an incredible diving grab.
It gave the Cardinals a 17-14 lead and the defense added two touchdowns late for the 31-14 final margin.
"I honestly didn't see it," said Stanton, who entered at quarterback on the drive after starter Carson Palmer went down with a knee injury. "I got dragged to the ground. Once everybody started cheering, I figured it was a touchdown, not a pick."
The Cardinals had a tough time taking deep shots against the Rams' excellent pass rush, but Stanton was excited about the play call and had just enough time to execute it. Coach Bruce Arians said it was hard to set up a play like that because the Cardinals had trouble running the ball, but got the right defense to give it a go.
"It was a play that we all liked," Arians said. "Carson liked it and Drew loved it. … We knew it was going to be a long seven-step drop play if we could protect it. They actually blitzed, which helped us a little bit."
Brown started these late-game heroics in his first regular season action, catching the game-winning screen pass against the Chargers on Monday Night Football. He next hauled in a pair of scores against the 49ers in Week 3, the second of which put the Cardinals ahead.
He then snatched the memorable over-the-shoulder pass from Palmer for a 75-yard score to beat the Eagles. Brown, a Division II product, never allows the moment to get too big for him.
"That's what I'm here for," Brown said. "That's what coach Bruce Arians brought me in for, to make big plays. They say big-time players step up in big-time games, so I try to do the best that I can do when it's my time."
Brown finished Sunday with five catches for 73 yards. The touchdown reception was his team-leading fifth.
RUNNING GAME STRUGGLES TO PRODUCE
The Rams entered allowing the third-most rushing yards per game in the NFL at 136.3 but stymied the Cardinals. Running back Andre
Ellington had 18 carries for 23 yards and the team finished with an average yards-per-carry of 1.3 on 22 attempts.
Ellington didn't have a rush longer than five yards, and Arians pinned most of the blame on the lack of running lanes.
"We got our ass whipped," Arians said. "It was simple. We couldn't block people. This game in the first half came down to simple blocking and tackling. We weren't tackling and we damn sure weren't blocking."
It was Ellington's lowest output of the season, although he did score from three yards out to tie the game at 7 early in the second quarter.
FITZ CONTINUES HOT STREAK
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald didn't lead the Cardinals in receiving last year for the first time since 2006, and through the first four games this season was headed down a similar path.
In the past five games, he's been a clear go-to guy. Fitzgerald had nine receptions for 112 yards against the Rams on a team-high 10 targets. He has totaled 31 catches for 461 yards and two touchdowns during the team's five-game winning streak.
Against the Rams, Fitzgerald passed Michael Irvin for 24th on the career receiving yardage list and Keenan McCardell for 19th in career receptions.
CATANZARO FINALLY MISSES A FIELD GOAL
Rookie Chandler Catanzaro's successful field goal streak ended at 17 after he missed a 53-yard attempt in the fourth quarter. He made one from 43 with 4:52 left before halftime to tie Kai Forbath's record for consecutive field goals made to start a career.
The Cardinals trailed by four points after his miss but scored 21 in quick succession to pull out the win.
"I definitely wanted the shot from there," Catanzaro said. "I felt very confident. Just a little loose at contact with my leg caused a little bit of a push. I'm not worried about it. I'm hitting the ball great."