Safety Tyrann Mathieu looks down at his injured left knee as he is carted off during Sunday's win over St. Louis.
Everything was going right for the Cardinals' defense in the third quarter against the Rams.
Karlos Dansby intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. John Abraham followed with a sack for a safety. Then, disaster struck. Rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu was tackled on the ensuing free kick and suffered what "appears to be" a torn
ACL, coach Bruce Arians said.
Mathieu tried running off the field after the play, but crumpled face first into the ground near the sideline. He was then carted into the locker room.
"We'll wait and see (on the official diagnosis)," Arians said. "That's just the early prognosis of the exam that we have right now. He'll go through the MRI and all the rest of the tests. We'll just keep our fingers crossed."
Mathieu caught the punt at the 27-yard line and ran to his right. He bounced off a couple tacklers and tried to dart back to his left but was corralled by Isaiah Pead. Mathieu's left leg was straight as his foot planted in the grass, and several Rams players piled on as he was falling to the ground.
Mathieu blew a kiss to the crowd as he was carted off, and, while not available for comment after the game, sent out a tweet which read: "I appreciate everyone prayers. We go through things in life to test our faith & strength."
If it is a torn ACL, Mathieu's season will be over and he will undergo a lengthy rehabilitation.
He has 67 tackles, two interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble on the season. His ability to play in coverage, tackle and blitz the quarterback has him in the running for Rookie of the Year.
"To me, he's a lock," Arians said. "I don't know if anybody else has played as much as he's played and all the positions he's played. I just wish that they kicked that damn ball to Patrick (Peterson)."
Rashad Johnson, the player who Mathieu replaced in the starting lineup midway through the year, will take on a bigger role in Mathieu's absence. Johnson had an interception late to help clinch the 30-10 victory over the Rams, but he was more concerned with the status of his fellow defensive back following the game.
"In the secondary, we're like a family," Johnson said. "It was a brother going down. It's definitely something that's going to impact the defense because he does so much for us. Right now we've got to keep him in our prayers."
FEEDING LARRY FITZGERALD
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald hit double digits in receptions for the first time since 2010, catching 12 passes for 96 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.
He caught every ball Carson Palmer threw his way, finding much more room to maneuver than in most games this season.
"We just had a good connection," Fitzgerald said. "Everything worked pretty good. As a whole throwing the ball today I think we were pretty effective."
Palmer said it was the play-calling of Arians which freed up Fitzgerald.
"Bruce has a really good feel, had some phenomenal calls, I thought," Palmer said. "He had a couple of good calls where we really just didn't execute correctly, but he was on a little bit of a roll, and Larry wasn't getting doubled all of the time and there were some opportunities to get him the ball."
Fitzgerald became the ninth player in NFL history to catch 10 touchdown passes or more in five different seasons.
"Hopefully we'll be sitting here in a couple years and I will be able to do it seven or eight times," Fitzgerald said.
OFFENSIVE LINE HOLDS UP
The Rams won the season opener between these teams due in large part to the disruptiveness of the defensive line.
Defensive end Robert Quinn led the way with three sacks and two forced fumbles in that 27-24 win, but he was held in check on Sunday, registering just three tackles, including one tackle for loss.
Left tackle Bradley Sowell did not play in the opener but did an impressive job against Quinn. The Cardinals also used tight ends and running backs to help him out.
"Quinn's been playing at an extremely high level," center Lyle Sendlein said. "Brad had a real big challenge. He's had a lot of big challenges this year. He stepped up well to this one."
The Rams only sacked Carson Palmer one time, when Alec Ogletree got there on a blitz. The clean pocket helped Palmer complete 27-of-32 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown.
MIKE LEACH AN IRONMAN
Long snapper Mike Leach played in his 200th career game on Sunday. It was his 181st consecutive appearance, the third-longest streak in the NFL. Redskins linebacker London Fletcher has appeared in 253 straight games, while Texans punter Shane Lechler has played in 187 in a row.