Safety Antrel Rolle returns an interception 40 yards for a touchdown during the Cardinals' 34-13 win over the Rams Sunday.
ST. LOUIS – The defense as a whole was ill, having watched Rams rookie Derek Stanley somehow pull in the bomb from Marc Bulger around the coverage of cornerback Eric Green and race 80 yards for Sunday's first score.
In an odd way, however, it sparked a unit that wasn't happy with how it had played the previous week against Carolina.
"(Eric) was in position to make the play but he didn't finish the play, and that was what we talked about all week was finishing plays," said safety Adrian Wilson, after the Cardinals' 34-13 win Sunday. "We took it upon ourselves to turn the game around. We knew the offense would move the ball. We just wanted to give them more opportunities."
So the defense turned in a second quarter to remember. First, struggling free safety Antrel Rolle stepped in front of a Bulger pass and returned it 40 yards for a tying touchdown.
"If the offense can't get it going, the defense can score also," said Rolle, who had his fourth career interception return for a touchdown. "That is something we emphasized this week (as a defense), go get the ball try and get turnovers."
On the Rams' next possession, Wilson broke free on a blitz to record his first sack of the season and forced a fumble that defensive end Bertrand Berry recovered, leading to a field goal. And on the Rams' following possession, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett sacked Bulger to end a drive. Running back Tim Hightower ended the Cards' ensuing drive with a 30-yard touchdown run.
The Cards allowed just 18 yards to the Rams in the second quarter, while Arizona generated 229 yards.
ON A ROLLE
As expected, the Cards did a better job tackling after a terrible second half in Carolina. Rolle in particular tackled well after having tackling problems all season.
"Hands down it was my best game," Rolle said. "I take things very personal. Last week, the Steve Smith play (near the sideline) … I can't let it go to a judgment call. It was a point of emphasis this week was tackling and hustling to each and every play."
The backbreaker for the Rams came late in the second quarter. Quarterback Kurt Warner threw a bomb to Jerheme Urban that was underthrown, a ball that should have been intercepted by Rams cornerback Jonathan Wade.
But Wade couldn't handle it cleanly, and not only did it pop out of his hands, it went to the hands of Urban, who snatched it and streaked the final 25 or so yards for an improbable 56-yard touchdown and a 24-7 lead.
"(Wade) did a nice job coming underneath, as soon as it popped up, I tried to grab it," Urban said. "Coach (Todd) Haley has been on me quite a bit as far as trying to, whenever the ball is in the air, make it mine. When I saw it I tried to grab it and go."
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said it was nice to have the bounces go the Cards' way.
"How many times has it been when we have gotten bad bounces?" Whisenhunt asked rhetorically.
Rookie linebacker Ali Highsmith hurt his right knee during the game, and while he will be evaluated further, he was on crutches in the locker room after the game and was wearing an immobilizer.
Left tackle Mike Gandy also sprained his right ankle and had to leave the game.
DE/LB Travis LaBoy (groin) and TE Ben Patrick (knee) were not able to play because of their injuries. …
Warner said the only bad part of his day was not getting to see the Ring of Honor induction ceremony for former Rams coach Dick Vermeil at halftime.
"I wish I could have been out there for it," said Warner, after many of his former 1999 Super Bowl-winning teammates took part. "Other than that, it was a great day. I always love to come back to St. Louis. The community is unbelievable. Really a good day all around for me."
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 11/2/08.