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  • St. Louis Rams Face Arizona Cardinals' Triple Threat

    St. Louis Rams face Arizona Cardinals' triple threat

    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/19/2009

    For the St. Louis pass defense, every week brings its own set of challenges. Perhaps none bigger than the three-headed monster coming to town this week — otherwise known as the Arizona wide receiver corps.

    Last season, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston became only the fifth trio in NFL history with 1,000 yards receiving apiece. They also became just the fifth trio in league history with 75 catches each. Despite some injury problems for Boldin and Breaston, they're not far off that pace this season.

    "They're definitely a special group," safety Oshiomogho Atogwe said. "They're almost playing on a different level. It's almost like they're not running an offense off a (play) card. They're just kind of running an offense that they all know intrinsically. They're always on the same page ... and they just kind of play off of one another."

    And just in time for Sunday's game against the Rams, they're as healthy as they've been all season. The ultra-competitive Boldin missed the Chicago game two weeks ago with an ankle injury. (And let everyone know how unhappy he was to be a pregame inactive.)

    He returned to form last week against Seattle with eight catches for 105 yards, including a 37-yard catch in the fourth quarter that set up the game-winning touchdown. In the process, Boldin tied former Ram Isaac Bruce as the fifth-fastest player in NFL history to reach 7,000 receiving yards — doing so in his 88th career game.

    "He's like a running back playing wide receiver," cornerback Ron Bartell said. "He has a real physical mindset. He welcomes contact, which most wide receivers shy away from."

    There isn't a wideout in the league tougher to bring down in the open field. Boldin hasn't broken as many tackles as usual, probably a result of the ankle injury, but that doesn't mean it won't happen Sunday.

    Injuries have cost Boldin eight games over the previous two seasons, which in part explains why Fitzgerald has moved ahead of him as the Cardinals' No. 1 option. Nobody in the NFL has as many catches or yards as Fitzgerald since the start of the 2005 season, and he's trying to lead the NFC in catches and yards for the third consecutive season.

    "He has great body control," Bartell said. "Of course, he's big and physical and everything. But his body control is out of this world. He's able to make catches in every area. So where you can throw the ball for him, you can't throw it ... for any other receiver. He's able to go get it all over the field."

    Fitzgerald isn't making as many big plays down the field so far this season, because opposing teams have been playing a lot of Cover 2, a defensive scheme designed to keep the play in front of you.

    Fitzgerald and Boldin are in their sixth season together, making Breaston the relative newcomer. A fifth-round pick out of Michigan in 2007, Breaston (6-0, 189) may have the best deep speed of the trio. As is the case with Boldin, he also seems to be healthier, having played through a bruised knee that has bugged him for much of the season.

    The size of Boldin (6-1, 217) and Fitzgerald (6-3, 217) complicates pass defense and makes positioning all the more important.

    "They go up and get the football," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "It'd be one thing if they were just big, but they're more than that. They can run. They know how to go get the football."

    Even with the recent improvement in Arizona's running game, the best chance for the Rams to spring an upset Sunday is to keep Fitzgerald, Boldin and Breaston from going wild in the Edward Jones Dome.

    "They're great. What more can you say about 'em," Bartell said. "And Kurt (Warner) just makes 'em even more tougher. So it's a challenge. But I think we're starting to come together as a secondary. We've got a little bit of stability. Guys are back healthy."

    Count Bartell among the latter. A nagging thigh injury that robbed him of his closing speed is almost behind him.

    "I feel so much better the past couple of weeks than I did," Bartell said. "That week off (for the bye) really helped. It's the best I felt since like Week 2."

    At the other corner, Quincy Butler hasn't been a liability in two starts since Bradley Fletcher's season-ending knee injury.

    At safety, James Butler is re-establishing his chemistry with Atogwe after missing three games with a knee injury.

    "Me and James are really starting to flow right now," Atogwe said. "Those weeks he was down, slowed us down, but we're back right where we were coming out of training camp. Our communication's at an all-time high, and I think that's what's allowing us to play well."

    And with an interception and a forced fumble that prevented a touchdown against New Orleans, Atogwe is back as the Rams' Mr. Takeaway.

    "I mean, he never left," Atogwe said, grinning. "It's a blessing to be able to create turnovers. We're going to continue to look for 'em. We won't press for 'em, but we'll definitely take advantage when the opportunity presents itself."

  • #2
    Re: St. Louis Rams Face Arizona Cardinals' Triple Threat

    We are going to need some turnovers by the Cardinals offense to win this game. Hopefully Captain Kurt will help us out.

    GO RAMS!
    sigpic :ram::helmet:

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: St. Louis Rams Face Arizona Cardinals' Triple Threat

      Originally posted by laram0 View Post
      We are going to need some turnovers by the Cardinals offense to win this game. Hopefully Captain Kurt will help us out.

      GO RAMS!
      I agree 100% there, this game is tougher than the Saints in my opinion.
      The Saints are not playing as well right now, Arizona, as of now are right up their with the Colts. Just an opinion.
      Prediction-Cardinals 34-10. The Cardinal D seems to always play its best football agianst the Rams.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: St. Louis Rams Face Arizona Cardinals' Triple Threat

        The Cards are a very good team and are likely better than the Saints. But, I also think that the Rams are showing us that they are a capable of playing at a much higher level than earlier in the season. Assuming that Warner, Hightower, Fitz & Boldin have thier usual games, it will be difficult to keep them out of the endzone. Tough, tough test for our Defense today.

        I have confidence in our team to find a way to win tough !! Home field, much more in-synch Offensive Line, and Steven is running like a truck !!

        RAMS in a 4th Quarter STUUUN-NUH 45-38 !!! Ya heard it hear.

        PS On the NFL Network, Marshall Faulk picked the Cards...C'mon Marshall !

        Best to all

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: St. Louis Rams Face Arizona Cardinals' Triple Threat

          Warner's my boy, but this is one week where I wouldn't mind seeing him throw up 5 more picks. We definately gotta come up with a big game here.

          Comment

          Related Topics

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          • RamWraith
            Secondary faces tough job
            by RamWraith
            By Jim Thomas
            ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
            Friday, Oct. 31 2008
            Other than Dallas (without Tony Romo), the Rams haven't played a top-tier
            passing offense since opening the season against Donovan McNabb and
            Philadelphia.

            That's about to change. Arizona's aerial circus is coming to town, headed by
            ringmaster Kurt Warner and featuring the high-flying act of Anquan Boldin and
            Larry Fitzgerald as wide receivers.

            Rams opponents have thrown an average of 29 passes per game. The Cardinals
            nearly doubled that figure last week with 51 tosses against Carolina. The Rams
            have every reason to expect more of the same from the Big Red on Sunday in the
            Edward Jones Dome.

            "They really don't want to run the ball," cornerback Ron Bartell said. "They
            want to throw the ball. That's what they do best. They run it when they have
            to. When they get a lead, they'll try to run it. But the first thing you have
            to do is stop the pass and get to Kurt Warner."

            Nobody in the NFL throws the football as often as Arizona, and coach Jim
            Haslett understands why.

            "They do a great job," Haslett said. "That's why Kurt's 70-percent throwing.
            They've got over 2,000 yards passing. With the players they have? I would
            expect it."

            Against Carolina, the Cardinals threw 25 times and ran the ball just once over
            the final 1 1/2 quarters. They used a lot of four-wide receiver sets in that
            game, in part because both of their top tight ends, Leonard Pope and Ben
            Patrick, were out with injuries.

            Neither is expected to play this week. Even if they were, Warner likes to
            operate out of the four-wide receiver set, going no-huddle and calling his own
            plays. That's not an optimal matchup for the Rams, who for a variety of reasons
            have been thin at cornerback all year.

            True, Tye Hill is practicing this week after missing the previous three games
            following arthroscopic knee surgery. Hill is expected to suit up Sunday, but
            he's still probably a week or so away from being fully healthy. Most likely, he
            will be used only on an emergency basis against the Cardinals.

            That leaves only four remaining cornerbacks, or just enough to play a
            dime-package defense against Arizona's four-receiver sets. And that means
            second-year pro Jonathan Wade could be seeing his most extensive action of the
            season to date.

            "Jonathan's getting better and better every time he steps on the field,"
            Haslett said. "Jonathan is a guy that hasn't played a lot of corner. He was a
            wideout in college, played one year at corner. We didn't really trust him last
            year. This year, I think the coaches feel much more comfortable with him."...
            -10-31-2008, 11:15 AM
          • RamWraith
            Rams - Cardinals: 5 Things to Watch
            by RamWraith
            Saturday, September 23, 2006


            By Nick Wagoner
            Senior Writer

            1. Dynamic Duo

            In St. Louis, the fans know all about what a dynamic receiving duo looks like. Rams fans have been blessed with the ability to watch Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt do their thing for years.

            In Arizona, the Cardinals are becoming accustomed to a similar experience with talented young wide outs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin asserting themselves as top-tier players.

            The Cardinals are 10th in the league in passing, mainly because of their dynamic duo at receiver. Both are fast, but they have just about all of the tools to be star receivers for years to come.

            “(They are) big and physical,” Rams coach Scott Linehan said. “They’ve got more tools than that, but it’s really a tough match up when you go up against big, physical guys like that. The challenge is to be able to contain them. I really mean that. They have the ability to make big plays. They’ve got a great quarterback who can get them the ball, who knows how to get them the ball. It’s going to be a pretty big challenge for our secondary to slow those guys down a little bit.”

            In two games this season, Boldin and Fitzgerald have combined for 23 catches for 309 yards and a touchdown. The Cardinals passing game was in top form in the opener against San Francisco but struggled with quarterback Kurt Warner in the second game against Seattle.

            The Cardinals also have other big targets in tight end Adam Bergen and third receiver Bryant Johnson, but they rely mainly on the combination of Boldin and Fitzgerald.

            Expect the Rams to come with some creative coverages to attempt to limit the big plays. St. Louis gave up some big gainers in the passing game against San Francisco last week and though it’s almost impossible to stop Fitzgerald and Boldin, they have to at least limit the long plays that result in points.

            “They’re complete package guys,” Linehan said. “That makes it for a tough match-up. We’ve got to be creative in how we also help those guys at times, too. Not always having to cover them one-on-one. . You’re going to have to get it done.”

            2. Living on the Edge

            During the offseason, running back Edgerrin James was perhaps the biggest name available on the free agent market..

            Arizona inked James to a four-year, $30 million deal, giving the Cardinals instant credibility..

            “He’s one of the best running backs in the league,” defensive end Leonard Little said. “He’ll give you 1,600 yards a year. There’s a real threat with their running game. We have to really prepare for both things; the running game and the passing game.”

            In fact, in James’ eight seasons in the league, he has rushed for more than 1,500 yards on four occasions. This season, he is off to a slow start as the...
            -09-24-2006, 07:33 AM
          • RamWraith
            Rams hope to end season with a win over Cardinals
            by RamWraith
            Arizona won earlier meeting
            BY STEVE KORTE
            News-Democrat

            It's a merciful ending to disappointing and injury-riddled seasons for both the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals.

            Yet Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said he was looking forward to his team's season-ending matchup against the Cardinals at 3:15 p.m. today at University of Phoenix Stadium.

            "I am looking to have fun," Bulger said. "It doesn't mean anything as far as playoffs and all that, but anytime you go out there, you enjoy yourself and you remember the times when you weren't on a team, or that people are in hospitals or in different countries or Iraq. I mean, just be thankful."

            Bulger said he had time to reflect on his blessings as the Rams had a sort of Christmas break with three of the next four days off after their 41-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 20.

            "You get family in, and they tell you about their problems, so maybe your problems aren't that bad," Bugler said. "I had a friend whose mother had to go into the hospital yesterday with something life-threatening out of the blue. Things can happen. When you are in the day-to-day grind, you don't realize it.

            "But getting those couple days off, you don't shut down football and think that it is not important anymore, but you kind of do put it into perspective a little bit."

            With a 3-12 record, the Rams need a win just to tie their 1998 squad for the worst record since the franchise moved to St. Louis in 1995.

            Rams coach Scott Linehan, who was given a vote of confidence from team President John Shaw a couple of weeks ago, wants to end the season with a win before beginning what figures to be a busy offseason.

            "You want to finish what you start, and have a good last game regardless," Linehan said. "We're playing a division opponent on the road. It would be nice for us to be able to go there and perform well and go away with a victory."

            The Cardinals are 7-8 and hoping to post their best record since 1998 and their third nonlosing season since 1984 by finishing at .500.

            Arizona has dealt with the loss of quarterback Matt Leinart to a season-ending collar bone injury during a 34-31 win over the Rams on Oct. 7 at the Edward Jones Dome and the loss of strong safety Adrian Wilson to a season-ending heel injury a few weeks later.

            Former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner has assumed a full-time role since Leinart's injury. The Arizona Republic reported this week that Warner could earn as much as $1.5 million in incentive bonuses if he plays well against the Rams.

            Bulger said he consulted Warner earlier this month when he was deciding whether it was safe for him to play after suffering a concussion.

            "A lot of times you can get pressured in this business...
            -12-30-2007, 09:20 AM
          • Nick
            Rams get an old result
            by Nick
            Rams get an old result
            BY JIM THOMAS | Posted: Monday, September 13, 2010 12:25 am

            It seemed different, it looked different. It even sounded different Sunday in the Edward Jones Dome. But by the end of the game, it was no different.

            Despite four takeaways by the Rams' defense, a career day for new wide receiver Mark Clayton (with 10 catches), and some rookie magic by quarterback Sam Bradford at the end of the first half, the Rams lost — again — to the Arizona Cardinals.

            Smothered most of the day by cornerback Ron Bartell, Arizona's all-world wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught the game-winning touchdown pass with 6 minutes, 13 seconds to play in the fourth quarter for a 17-13 Arizona victory.

            That makes eight straight victories by the Cardinals over the Rams. Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt still hasn't lost to St. Louis — he's 7-0. And Bill Bidwill's team has won its last six contests here.

            "We didn't capitalize on a lot of opportunities," said running back Steven Jackson, who gained 81 yards on 22 carries in his first extended action since back surgery in April. "To go forward and to turn this thing around, I think we showed a lot of progress today. I don't want to discredit the young guys. But we have to get a killer instinct. We have to be able to put a team like that that's good — we have to be able to put a team like that away."

            The Rams had their chances, several of them, to do just that. Leading 13-10 midway through the third quarter, defensive end C.J. Ah You swept in for a sack of Arizona quarterback Derek Anderson, who was hit early and often by the Rams' pass rush. The ball popped out for a fumble, and defensive tackle Clifton Ryan was there to nimbly scoop up the football at the Arizona 23 with nothing but green turf between him and the end zone.

            At 324 pounds, Ryan isn't built for speed. And he hadn't run the football in about 10 years, or since he was in high school. But he knew what to do with the ball; there was just one thing on his mind.

            "Score a touchdown, that's what I was thinking," Ryan said. "I was four yards away."

            But that's when hustling Cardinals receiver Steve Breaston swooped in from behind to poke the ball loose. A wild scramble in the end zone ensued with Cardinals center Lyle Sendlein ending up with the football for a touchback.

            So instead of a 20-10 Rams lead and some real pressure on the Cardinals, Arizona took over at its 20.

            "Everything happens for a reason," Ryan said.

            So what's the reason here?

            "When I figure it out, I'll be sure to let you know," Ryan said.

            There is no rhyme or reason to the Rams' recent woes. Sunday's loss was the 43rd for the team in the last 49 games. And even a good, sometimes inspired, effort bore no fruit Sunday....
            -09-13-2010, 07:24 AM
          • Yodude
            Anyone Who Thinks Boldin is "another TO" Should Read This
            by Yodude
            Boldin has earned benefit of
            By Jeffri Chadiha
            ESPN.com
            Archive


            TEMPE, Ariz. -- This season's defining moment for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin wasn't his heated argument with offensive coordinator Todd Haley in Arizona's 32-25 win over Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game. It actually came in late September, when Boldin casually strolled into his team's locker room a couple days after New York Jets safety Eric Smith knocked him cold in a blowout loss on the road.


            Boldin didn't show any pain after undergoing surgery on a fractured facial bone. He didn't say much about spending the night in the hospital after being carted off the field in that game. He just wanted to get back to work as soon as possible, even though he'd be sidelined for two more weeks.

            That's why we all need to remember one important thing about Boldin as his confrontation with Haley still hovers over the start of Super Bowl week: There's a lot more to him than what we saw in that brief exchange. Whatever happened between Boldin and Haley ultimately proved to be inconsequential. It didn't stop the Cardinals from winning, and everyone around the team keeps referring to it as a nonissue.


            "It was something that was really minute," Boldin said. "But [the media] got a hold of it and tried to blow it up."



            Look, there are plenty of times when athletes try to downplay negative moments in ways that ring hollow. Grudges can still fester. Hard feelings usually linger. This, however, doesn't sound like one of those situations. As much material as Boldin gave the viewing public to work with Sunday -- and we also can't forget that he was the one who left the stadium in a hurry, supposedly so he could avoid the inevitable questions about the argument -- he's too well-respected in that locker room for anybody not to believe his words.



            It simply doesn't make sense that a player who cares so much about helping his team would suddenly turn petulant during the franchise's biggest moment. There's no question that Boldin was angry after being left on the sideline during the game-winning fourth-quarter drive. But he also has been through too much in Arizona for us to think he has turned selfish now. As Boldin said during a Thursday news conference, "I was mad because they took me out of the game. Any competitor would have the same reaction."


            Was Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin's sideline outburst out of line?
            You really can't blame the man for his eruption. For one thing, Boldin has been with the Cardinals longer than most players on the roster. He has led with his pride, his toughness and a work ethic that still blows away teammates to this day. He also earned his third Pro Bowl nomination after spending a good share of the summer complaining about the lack of...
            -01-23-2009, 05:06 PM
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