Cardinals lose Stanton, beat Rams 12-6
ST. LOUIS (AP) The Arizona Cardinals know all too well the feeling of seeing their quarterback leaving the field in pain.
It happened the last time the Cardinals (11-3) faced the St. Louis Rams, then again in the rematch Thursday night.
The only silver lining: They found a way to win both times and are on the verge of clinching a playoff berth after slugging out a 12-6 win behind Chandler Catanzaro's four field goals.
''I'm glad we don't have to play the Rams anymore. Both times we played them, they banged our quarterbacks up,'' receiver Larry Fitzgerald said after being limited to 30 yards and seven catches. ''It's unfortunate.''
Drew Stanton hopped off the field after getting sacked by Aaron Donald in the third quarter, and coach Bruce Arians wasn't sure about the extent of the injury to his right knee. Stanton, who became the starter after Carson Palmer suffered a season-ending injury in the last game against the Rams last month, was expected to get an MRI on Friday.
''We'll take it very slowly with him and see how it goes.'' Arians said.
Stanton's injury forced Ryan Lindley into his first playing time since 2012. He completed his first pass to set up a 51-yard field goal by Catanzaro, then had a 14-yard pass to John Brown on third-and-7 to spark a drive that led to Catanzaro's 44-yarder and a 12-3 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Lindley started four games for Arizona as a rookie in 2012 and was cut by the Cardinals in training camp this year. He was signed off San Diego's practice squad after Palmer got hurt, but has hardly practiced with the team's top players.
''For him to come in in this type of situation, a hostile environment with all the implications going into this game, he did an amazing job,'' Fitzgerald said.
Some things to know from the Cardinals' win over the Rams (6-8) that officially eliminated St. Louis from the playoff race:
SHUTOUT STREAK SNAPPED: The Rams hadn't allowed a point in nine straight quarters before Arizona's Larry Foote recovered Tre Mason's fumble at the St. Louis 27, leading to a second-quarter field goal. The back-to-back shutouts against Washington and Oakland had been the franchise's first since 1945.
''The difference in this ballgame was the ability to get the ball in the end zone. I thought our defense played well enough for us to win,'' coach Jeff Fisher said. ''But in situations like this when your offense is struggling against a good defense, somebody's got to make a play.''
The Rams still haven't given up a touchdown since the fourth quarter of a Nov. 23 loss at San Diego.
ARIANS UNPLUGGED: In his postgame news conference, Arians made it known that he was none too happy about the last-place Rams being favored against his first-place Cardinals.
''I love it when nobody says you're going to have a chance to win. There's an 11-3 team and a team that's always 8-8,'' Arians said. ''You figure it out.''
Arians stuck it to the Rams' offensive line while praising his D-line: ''I thought that our defensive line whipped their offensive line pretty solid. When they were making tackles behind the line of scrimmage, there was usually an offensive lineman holding onto their legs but somehow those flags never got called. But we were tackling them for losses, so it didn't matter.''
And about that Rams' defense?
''Everybody talking all that stuff about how great their defense is, they saw a good defense tonight. It was in red and white.''
LARRY LEGEND: With his fourth catch of the game, coming in the second quarter, Fitzgerald became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 900 career receptions. Fitzgerald, 31, is more than a full year younger than Andre Johnson was when he reached the milestone.
''I'm glad to finally get it behind me so I can just get on and worry about the things that really matter,'' Fitzgerald said. ''It's nice to be able to accomplish that in 11 years.''
KICKIN' IT: All of the game's points came from kickers coming off shaky performances.
Catanzaro, an undrafted rookie out of Clemson, missed two of his five field-goal attempts against Kansas City - including a 34-yarder with 69 seconds left that failed to extend a three-point lead.
''There was no need to talk to him all week. He's a talented, talented young fella. He just had a bad day at the office last week,'' Arians said.
St. Louis' Greg Zuerlein had missed an extra point and two short field goals in the first half last week against Washington. He rebounded with makes from 24 and 19 yards.
SEATTLE SHOWDOWN: No matter who's at quarterback, Arizona could have a chance to wrap up the division title next week against Seattle and finish a perfect 8-0 at home.
''That's a special game, to win a T-shirt, that hat: NFC West champs,'' said linebacker Larry Foote, who had a sack and a fumble recovery. ''We're going to play a great team in our place.''