Beanie Wells Runs Cardinals To 23-20 Win Over Rams

The Arizona Cardinals got a record day from Beanie Wells to beat the Rams and improve to 4-7.

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Cardinals Monday Review: Beanie Wells Response; Kevin Kolb Looking Good For Cowboys Game

Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt was clearly pleased at his Monday morning press conference. He was encouraged by the road win, only the second of the season, and was happy with the way his team finished the game late.

The Cardinals broke a tie with a field goal, got a defensive hold, and were able to run out the clock on offense. These are the types of late-game sequences that went against the Cardinals in several early season losses.

Obviously, a lot of praise went to Beanie Wells for his franchise record-breaking 228-yard game which is also the second-highest rushing game in the NFL this season (behind only 253 yards from the Cowboy's DeMarco Murray which was also against the Rams).

"Beanie (Wells) is sore today (with) a little swelling but not as bad as we thought it might be," Whisenhunt said.

"When he got his knee bent back, it looked horrible. At that point I'm sure most of us assumed that was it, he's done, because he was already fighting the knee. But to his credit, he fought through and came back in and had a couple of big runs. Kudos to Beanie."

Whisenhunt said that Wells has shown a lot of growth this season in his understanding of what it takes to succeed in the NFL.

Other than a few little nicks and bruises, the Cardinals came out of the game with no new injuries.

Kevin Kolb is expected to play this coming week against the Dallas Cowboys. He made a lot of progress last week and was able to participate in practice in a limited way and could have been activated and used later in the game. Whisenhunt said the artificial turf at the Edward Jones Dome caused concerns about his ability to warm up the foot after sitting on the sidelines.

"We are certainly a lot more optimistic about him going this week. It's really going to depend on where he is Wednesday and as that progresses but he made enough progress last week that you feel good about him doing it this week," Whisenhunt said

John Skelton had another poor game with two interceptions and a 12-for-23 completion rate. Whisenhunt said a change in protection call that lead to an early sack got in his head and that he appeared uncomfortable. When Skelton sets his feet and has good technique he throws the ball well. Otherwise, as we saw, the ball can sail.

Other Notes:

  • In the past few games where the Cardinals haven't ran the ball well, Whisenhunt stressed other teams loading up in the box to take away the run. Against the Rams, Whisenhunt said they saw a mix. He credited the wide receivers for blocking well against the St. Louis pressure defense.
  • Whisenhunt challenged his team to run the ball well. He had read comments from some Rams players saying they had shut down the Cardinals in their last game and would do so again. The offensive line and Wells responded well.
  • Sam Acho made a difficult transition to stand up linebacker with no offseason. He's always talking to veterans when he comes off field.
  • "He's (Acho) worked hard and I think he's got a very bright future at that position. Obviously, two sacks (Sunday), causing the fumbles, he came up big for us. It's really exciting to see young guys, especially a player like Sam where we drafted him, making that kind of contribution." -- Whisenhunt
  • Whisenhunt would push for Patrick Peterson for the Rookie of the Year. "What's he's done is special." 
  • Teams try to kick away from Peterson but sometimes the punter doesn't get it right. By kicking to the sidelines, the Cardinals also have an improved chance at getting better field position.
  • Wells was allowed to run one final time to set the rushing record thanks to team PR guy, Mark Dalton, who informed Whisenhunt during the two-minute warning that he was close. Breaking the record was important for the entire team, not just Beanie.
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Arizona Cardinals Final Score, 23-20 Over St. Louis Rams Behind Beanie Wells Record Day

Beanie Wells set a franchise record with 228 yards rushing on a day that saw the Arizona Cardinals beat the Rams for the seventh-straight time in St. Louis. The Cardinals fell behind early and struggled through a poor game by QB John Skelton but improve to 4-7 on the season thanks to Wells' big day, solid defense and a record-tying fourth punt return touchdown from Patrick Peterson.

The Cardinals defense was led by a very good game by rookie OLB Sam Acho, who recorded two sacks (five on the season) and forced two fumbles. ILB Daryl Washington continues to impress and the defensive line playing without starting NT Dan Williams (broken arm) held the Rams Steven Jackson to just 64 yards on 17 carries.

It wasn't a pretty game offensively from either team as both quarterbacks struggled to convert third downs and score in the red zone. Sam Bradford was the better of the two, going 17-31 for 203 yards and one touchdown. John Skelton looked extremely inaccurate early, threw two picks and went 12-23 for 114 yards.

This game was clearly won on the ground and in the trenches. The Cardinals ran for a total of 268 yards compared to 86 for the Rams. Wells had a 71-yard run in the first quarter that got the Cardinals into the red zone and produced three points. He replicated that in the fourth with a 53-yard run (video below) that broke a 20-20 tie.

Both teams recorded seven points off punt return touchdowns. The Rams Nick Miller ran one back 88 yards in the first quarter and Patrick Peterson got his fourth of the year in the third (video here).

The Cardinals complete a three-game series of road games going 2-1 and are now 3-1 in games started by John Skelton (despite his poor play). Arizona will now be home for four of their last five games of the season starting with the Dallas Cowboys next week.

For more on the game, visit Revenge of the Birds blog.

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Cardinals Vs. Rams: Beanie Wells Running Good, Very Little Else Going Right

The Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams sure are putting on a show for the NFL fans! The two teams have combined for just two third down conversions out of 11 attempts and both teams failed to get in the end zone despite great opportunities. Only a Rams punt return touchdown separates these two NFC West cellar dwellers.

The good news for the Cardinals has been the outstanding play of Beanie Wells. Wells has 118 yards on nine carries. 71 of those yards came on one run (video below). The Cardinals defense has also played well, especially the young linebackers Daryl Washington and Sam Acho. Acho has two sacks with one forcing a fumble.

John Skelton, in his fourth start in place of Kevin Kolb, has been a horrible 6-14 with an interception. He holds a QB rating of 20.

On the other side, a late flurry helped Sam Bradford to a 8-13 completion rate for 87 yards. He was the recipient of a fantastic catch by Brandon Lloyd that got the Rams to the three-yard line. A false start and Acho sack backed up St. Louis and forced a field goal to give them a 10-3 lead headed into the second half.

Video: Beanie Wells 71-yard run:

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Cardinals Vs. Rams Score Update: Wildcatting In St. Louis

The Arizona Cardinals did not get off to a good start. They failed to cover a punt properly and allowed the St. Louis Rams to score first on the return and then John Skelton airmailed an open Larry Fitzgerald for his first interception of the game on the next possession. The Cardinals trail 7-3 after the first quarter.

The Cardinals defense at least is once again bailing out John Skelton. They are handling Steven Jackson and getting pressure with rookie Sam Acho beating his man to force a sack fumble that Arizona was able to recover.

The Arizona offense went nowhere, however, but at least they got creative. On a second down, Patrick Peterson lined up and took the long snap on a Wildcat play but he fumbled the snap and was forced to fall on the ball. Just a bit anxious perhaps. The Rams tried a similar play with Jackson which was stuffed at the line. Sometimes there's a reason these trick plays aren't used very often.

Late in the quarter, Beanie Wells knocked off a 71-yard run to put Arizona in the red zone but Skelton (2-6) looks horrible and the Cards settle for field goal.

For more on the game, visit Revenge of the Birds blog.

Here's video of the Rams punt return touchdown:

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Kevin Kolb Won't Play, Tight End Todd Heap Active

It's been a long road for Kevin Kolb since he injured his right foot and big toe early in the Arizona Cardinals game against the Baltimore Ravens four weeks ago. He's worked hard to get back on the field but only saw his first snaps in practice this week and was limited and split time with back up John Skelton

After testing his mobility on the turf at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis his "questionable" status was officially answered. Kolb will miss his fourth-straight game which gives John Skelton an opportunity to redeem himself after a horrible game last week against the Niners.

The Cardinals will welcome back their pass-catching tight end, Todd Heap but still are without rookie Rob Housler (groin). Hopefully, that will give Skelton another option and take some pressure off Larry Fitzgerald

Other inactives for Arizona include WR Stephen Williams, S Kerry Rhodes, LB Joey Porter, OL D'Anthony Batiste, FB Regan Maui'a. RT Jeremy Bridges will get the start over Brandon Keith who suffered a concussion last week. Keith is active.

Here's the inactive list for the Rams:

Twitter / @STLouisRams: Rams inactives: 
Rams inactives: T Mark LeVoir, G Bryan Mattison, WR Danario Alexander, RB Cadillac Williams, LB Josh Hull, LB Ben Leber, DT Justin Bannan.

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Kevin Kolb 'Very Optimistic' About Playing Sunday

Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback (yes, he's still the starter) Kevin Kolb got his first action in practice on Wednesday since injuring his foot against the Ravens three weeks ago. Kolb split time with John Skelton, getting about 35-40 percent of the reps. Kolb also got in some additional work with the practice squad just to help shake the rust off.

"Physically, it's where I wanted it to be," Kolb said. 

Mentally, he said things were moving fast as too be expected in his first day back on the field in "live" action. He reported soreness in the foot but said it's not from the injury as much as "working out the kinks".

Kolb was able to plant and push in the pocket but there's still concern about how he'll react to unexpected situations in a live game. And while he isn't worried about it, Kevin agreed that the training staff might have some concern about playing on artificial turf on Sunday which has less give and can lead to more foot injuries(hence the term "turn toe").

Overall Kolb said he was very optimistic about his chances to play against the St. Louis Rams.

It's not all positive, however, as Kolb still isn't 100 percent medically cleared and coach Ken Whisenhunt points out that the decision isn't all about his foot.

 

"There's a lot of things you've got to consider. He hadn't played in a couple of weeks so you've got to make sure he's comfortable with the plan and that he's ready to operate. That's all what this week is for," Whisenhunt said, adding,

"He fell right back into it after a couple of snaps as far as the mechanics of (the offense). Calling it, understanding it, getting those things done."

John Skelton said he will take whatever reps he can get in practice although he agreed that it does make it more difficult to prepare when you don't get all the snaps.  

Skelton certainly seemed like he wants another chance to redeem himself after last Sunday's miserable performance against the Rams, "It's a negative having a game like that on your resume but at the same time you still have opportunities down the road to improve on it."

 

The bottom line is, Kolb made a huge step forward towards returning to the field. If his foot responds well and he has no set-backs it seems like he has a very good chance of starting Sunday.

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Kyle Orton Waived By Denver Broncos, Should Arizona Cardinals Pounce?

The Denver Broncos waived veteran quarterback Kyle Orton in an apparent sign of total faith in the golden arm (legs) of Tim Tebow. By placing Orton on waivers, the Bronco's can save approximately $2.5 million in salary for this season according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.  

There are a few teams with injured starting quarterbacks that could jump on the Orton Train. The Chicago Bears will be without Jay Cutler due to a thumb injury. They don't yet know how long he'll be out. The irony would not be lost on anyone if the Bears did land Orton since they traded him to Denver for Cutler in 2009.

The Houston Texans also lost their starting quarterback, Matt Schaub, with a foot injury. He could be out for the season. They are planning on turning over the team to Matt Leinart, but as a playoff contender the Texans might opt for Orton's experience.

That brings us to the Arizona Cardinals who have their own quarterback situation with Kevin Kolb not playing well before going down with the foot injury three weeks ago. John Skelton hasn't exactly torn the doors off with his play in a backup role. 

There will certainly be Cardinals fans who would like to see what Orton could do. Many felt he was a better option than Kolb in the offseason and it will likely be those same people that want to see him in Cardinals red and white now even though Kolb is expected back at some point this season.

Orton, 29, has 66 career starts with a 33-33 win/loss record as a quarterback. He's known as a guy who stands in the pocket and can make throws. He's also not been able to generate a lot of love from the teams he's played for and lost his Broncos job to a QB who's greatest strengths are intangibles and running the ball.

The Cardinals would ahead of the Bears and Texans to claim Orton in the waiver process based on their poor record. 

But does it make sense for the 3-7 Cardinals to create even more quarterback turmoil and take on Orton's salary at this point in the season? What message would it send to Kolb if they picked up Orton now?

Between the cost and potential upheaval, it doesn't seem likely given the way the Cardinals have reacted in the past that they would go after Orton...but you never know.

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John Skelton Ends Cardinals Quarterback Controversy, Right?

The Arizona Cardinals "quarterback controversy" was effectively ended Sunday when John Skelton went 6-19 with three interceptions. He's was, in a word, bad. So bad that even his coach who normally will publicly defend his players no matter what, was willing to admit the obvious. 

"After what he's done the last couple of weeks where you thought he was making progress, it's frustrating," Ken Whisenhunt said. "I know it's frustrating for John but he's a young player, that happens with young players. We've got to get him through this. We've got to get better at making sure that he won't, hopefully, struggle."

He was bad for sure, but it was only one game and it did come against one of the best defenses in the league and the Cardinals weren't playing with a fully stocked cupboard (no Todd Heap or Rob Housler and a limited Beanie Wells).

Maybe the ride isn't over yet?

The hope now is that Kevin Kolb will experience a recovery from his foot injury this week, but things were not looking espeically promising on that front. Whisenhunt said Kolb "wasn't close" when he was evaluated before the 49ers game. 

And Kolb?

"I pushed it hard all week and it just wasn't there," He said Monday. "I think I would have been hurting my team if I played on it. I'd be limping around everywhere and definitely wouldn't be up to par...I'm just going to keep pushing and do my best to be out there this week."

Whisenhunt made it clear that if Kolb missed his fourth-straight game this Sunday, Skelton will get the start against the Rams. Here's what he has to say for himself.

"I've been in games like this before, situations like this. You learn from them and move on and know that you are a better quarterback than how the game went," he said...not that there's much else he could say.

He did allow that his resilience, typically seen as a strength, was tested in his last start. Instead of bouncing back from an early mistake, he let it compound, "Normally, you know how to turn it off and move on but a game like that against a good defense it's hard to make a mistake and not let it effect you."

If there is a "quarterback controversy" left, Ken Whisenhunt is claiming not to be paying any attention to it, "I'm sure it's a topic but as far as where it (the controversy) is now, I don't know."

So right now, the fickle fan sentiment has shifted back towards the incumbent. With six games left on the schedule we'll see if either of the contestants can seize control of race and put this question bed. History, however, tells us that we are likely in for plenty more ups and downs on the Arizona Cardinals Quarterback Roller Coaster.

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