Rams running back Todd Gurley tries to escape Cardinals defensive end Frostee Rucker (92) during Sunday's 24-22 St. Louis win.
In the first half on Sunday, Rams running back Todd Gurley looked like a player still coming along slowly off an ACL tear.
By the time the Rams wrapped up their 24-22 victory over the Cardinals, he was running like the superstar-in-waiting many have made him out to be.
The Cardinals had trouble stopping Gurley after intermission, as he ran 15 times for 144 yards, including a pair of game-clinching first downs on the Rams' final drive. He finished with 19 carries for 146 yards in the game, an average of 7.7 yards
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians gave Gurley credit, but also said the players on defense weren't staying in the correct gaps, which led to some of the yardage.
"I was disappointed in the second half and our lack of discipline defensively stopping the run, giving up some big chunks to Gurley," Arians said.
The Cardinals have been one of the best run-stopping teams in the league under Arians and it held up that way for much of the afternoon. The Rams had nine carries for nine yards in the first half, but the floodgates opened later as they finished with 26 carries for 164 yards as a team, the most yards the Cardinals have allowed in a game this season.
"We've got to stop the simple mistakes. That's it. Dang near all those long runs were a fit problem," linebacker Kevin Minter said. "I'll take responsibility on all of it, because on a lot of it if I just fit right I could've helped and made the play."
Gurley had just nine yards on six carries last week in his debut and had the quiet first half, but was handed the ball often in the final two quarters.
"You know how it is," Gurley said. "If you are having a good game and it's rolling you keep the hot hand out."
CATANZARO FORCED TO GET BUSY
Kicker Chandler Catanzaro peeked over on third down during the Cardinals' final drive, hoping to get a chance to add to his career day. The offense couldn't quite get into field goal range, though, and a chance for a game-winning kick never
"I was ready for the opportunity, but it happens," Catanzaro said.
He still finished with a career-best five field goals, hitting successfully from 21, 27, 42, 38 and 29 yards without a miss. Catanzaro is now 7-for-7 on field goals this season. Catanzaro has nine field goals in his past two games against the Rams, accounting for all of the team's points in last year's 12-6 win in St. Louis and all but a late touchdown Sunday.
"They have a strong defense (so more opportunities are expected), but I'm always ready no matter what," Catanzaro said. "I was ready to go this week, whether I got one opportunity or however many I got."
A BIG DAY FOR CAMPBELL
While the Cardinals had trouble stopping the run, one player who dominated throughout was defensive end Calais Campbell. He was a common sight in the St. Louis backfield, finishing with 11 tackles, a half-sack, three tackles for loss and a pair of quarterback hits on the day.
Campbell also had the tackle on St. Louis running back Benny Cunningham which forced a fumble inside the Rams' 10 late in the third quarter, but the officials ruled Cunningham's forward progress was stopped before the ball came loose.
"The first couple games, the ball bounced our way, we capitalized and good things happened," Campbell said. "This time, some opportunities were missed."
ELLINGTON INACTIVE; CHRIS JOHNSON EFFECTIVE ON THE GROUND
Running back Andre Ellington was inactive for the third straight game with a knee sprain but again the running game did fine. Chris Johnson finished with 16 carries for 83 yards and the Cardinals averaged 5.4 yards per carry.
Left guard Mike Iupati made his season debut after missing the first three games with a knee injury. Safety Rashad Johnson left the game briefly with a back injury in the third quarter but returned to finish the contest.