STL-ARI Grades: Season-best performance for Nick Foles
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Sunday’s Rams-Cardinals game:
St. Louis Rams
– After getting eased into his first regular season action last week, RB Todd Gurley (-1.6) saw a big increase in touches against the Cardinals with 19 carries. He gained north of 140 yards while breaking a couple of tackles and consistently making good cuts on the Rams’ zone runs, although he did have an almost-costly fumble inside his own 15-yardline, which dropped his overall grade substantially. The Rams offensive line also deserves credit for his performance, after a much-improved blocking effort this week. Gurley gained more yards after contact (10) than net yards (9) against Pittsburgh, but on Sunday, more than half of his rushing yards came before contact.
– Overall, a very clean, solid outing for Nick Foles (+2.6), who handled pressure decently and protected the ball while delivering a few big-time throws when he ventured more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. One of those was at 5:53 of the third quarter, when he connected with Stedman Bailey (+1.3) on a corner route in the end zone to extend the Rams’ lead to eight. Almost no negatives to note, outside of a couple of misses and his occasional tendency to drift in the pocket and screw up his blockers’ leverage.
– This was the third straight game that DT Nick Fairley (+1.4) played less than 20 snaps, but he continues to grade positively in limited playing time, with this game putting him at +6.0 overall on the season. On his second snap, Fairley faced little resistance from center Lyle Sendlein (-2.5) on his way to pressuring Carson Palmer (+2.2). And at 4:59 of the third quarter, he made a similar play, beating guard Jonathan Cooper (-1.5) outside to draw a holding penalty.
P Johnny Hekker (+4.8)
WR Tavon Austin (+3.1)
QB Nick Foles (+2.6)
DT Aaron Donald (+2.3)
DE Robert Quinn (+1.4)
DT Nick Fairley (+1.4)
– DE Calais Campbell (+5.8) turned in his highest grade of the season, with a dominating performance on the interior as he collected three combined pressures and eight defensive stops, most of them coming against either LG Jamon Brown (-5.0) or LT Greg Robinson (-2.4). Take a look at 4:08 of the first quarter and 15:00 of the third for a pair of examples. It was much of the same for the rest of the game.
– Not bad for LG Mike Iupati (+1.5) in his first regular season action with the Cardinals. He had some rough moments against Aaron Donald, including at both 11:31 and 1:24 of the second quarter, but otherwise looked similar to the player we saw in San Francisco, with more than 45 clean snaps in pass protection and some good blocks at the second level in the run game.
– This was a winnable game for the Cardinals, who moved the ball fairly well, but consistently stalled in the red zone and settled for field goals. QB Carson Palmer had several costly misses, including an underthrow that resulted in an interception at 6:59 of the second quarter, and an overthrow of an open receiver on fourth down on the team’s final offensive play. Otherwise, he had a decent game, especially when given a clean pocket, going 13-for-18 on intermediate throws. And he saw little help from his receivers with two drops on third down in the red zone that would have resulted in a first down and touchdown if caught.
DE Calais Campbell (+5.8)
QB Carson Palmer (+2.2)
CB Patrick Peterson (+2.0)
CB Tyrann Mathieu (+1.6)
LG Mike Iupati (+1.5)