ARI-STL Grades: Palmer leads Cardinals in dominant showing

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Arizona Cardinals’ 27-3 victory over the St. Louis Rams.

| 11 months ago
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

ARI-STL Grades: Palmer leads Cardinals in dominant showing

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Arizona Cardinals’ 27-3 victory over the St. Louis Rams.

Arizona Cardinals

– Another week, another strong outing from Carson Palmer, who missed on only a handful of throws. Palmer continues to drive the ball down the field with confidence, and he added to his league-leading total of big-time throws with three more against the Rams. Whether it was a well-placed post route, his touchdown along the sideline of the end zone, or his in-stride deep ball to John Brown, Palmer has made some of the best throws of the season, and this week was no different.

– Fresh off a new contract extension, special team superstar turned starting cornerback, Justin Bethel, had another strong outing at +2.1. He was targeted 10 times, allowing only two catches while getting his hands on two passes. On the other side, CB Patrick Peterson continued his strong play with a +2.6 effort, as he gave up only 40 yards on six targets, including one pass defensed.

– The left side of the Cardinals’ line had a strong effort, as LT Jared Veldheer and LG Mike Iupati allowed only two hurries between them and combined for a +5.1 run blocking grade. Cardinals running backs ran nine times for 86 yards their way, as both players did a fine job moving Rams’ defensive tackles at the point of attack. Iupati’s seal of Nick Fairley at the 1:37 mark of the of the third quarter paved the way for a Kerwynn Williams 35-yard touchdown, while Veldheer made a number of strong blocks in Arizona’s man-blocking scheme.

Top performers:

QB Carson Palmer +4.6
LT Jared Veldheer +3.5
LG Mike Iupati +3.5
CB Patrick Peterson +2.6
CB Justin Bethel +2.6


St. Louis Rams

– Other than one play in which he was blown off the ball by a double team, DT Aaron Donald was dominant as he created havoc as a pass rusher while making plays in the run game all afternoon. He picked up a sack and four QB hits on only 31 rushes, while also beating a number of other blocks quickly, though the pass was off too quickly to notch a pressure. In the run game, he did his part to move blockers backwards, while shedding and getting in on three run stops. Donald is currently our top interior defensive lineman, at 97.3.

– It’s been a difficult stretch for QB Nick Foles, who has now posted negative grades in three straight games, and five of his last seven. His accuracy percentage of 57.6 percent ranks last in the NFL this week, as he forced throws to covered receivers and often missed when they were open. His first-quarter interception floated, allowing free safety Rashad Johnson to break on it, but perhaps more glaring were his open misses. His overthrow on an out-route late in the third quarter wasn’t even close, while a similar overthrow on a shallow crossing route at the 8:54 mark of the fourth quarter missed by a huge margin.

– Running back Toddy Gurley picked up 41 yards on nine carries, but 34 of them came on one wide open run. He was contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage on five of his nine carries, as the Rams’ offensive line struggled in the run game, particularly at guard. LG Garrett Reynolds and RG Cody Wichmann posted identical -2.7 run blocking grades, as the Cardinals’ defensive front beat them often at the point of attack. As for Gurley, he’s rushed for only 168 yards on 55 carries in his last four games behind one of the league’s worst run blocking offensive lines.

Top performers:

DT Aaron Donald +9.5
OLB Mark Barron +1.2
DT Michael Brockers +0.9
C Tim Barnes +0.9
CB Lamarcus Joyner +0.6

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • DerDings

    I’d really be interested in Foles’ grade because it seemed to me he could have easily been picked of ten times or so. At one point he had three consecutive incompletions that should have been INTs.

    • krebs

      Nick had a -4.7 rating.

  • krebs

    Nick had a -4.7 rating. See worst players of week 13.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Was hoping Sam Monson would write this article since he was the only one who picked the Rams to win.

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  • Ringer

    Can you tell me what the rating was for the right side of the Cardinals line?

  • Tim Edell

    This has to be the end of Les Snead and Fisher in St Louis. They need a complete overhaul but unfortunately for them they signed Foles to that extension.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Not sure they need a complete overhaul as the defense has some talent to build with. The offense has less firepower than a Dollar General cap gun so plenty of work is needed there.

  • Brian

    Poor (all the ARI QBs in recent history) that have had nothing but garbage O lines. I recall PFF saying it was fairly poor even in their SB year with Kurt Warner.
    This year shows what can happen when you actually build an O line. Put a good QB behind it to boot and it’s magic.
    Kinda hope Arizona takes it all the way