The St. Louis Rams improved to 3-2 on the 2012 regular season with a 17-3 win over the previously undefeated Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night, but the win came with a hefty price tag as wide receiver Danny Amendola is believed to have suffered a broken collarbone while laying out in an attempt to catch a pass in the second quarter.
The Rams, who have won three or more games in a season just twice since 2006, put together a tremendous defensive effort to pick up their third win under first-year head coach Jeff Fisher. A pass rush that had reached opposing quarterbacks just six times in the first four weeks got to Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb nine times. Rams defensive end Robert Quinn had three sacks, including a strip-sack that was recovered by Rams defensive lineman William Hayes to preserve the win with 1:14 remaining in regulation. With his three sacks, Quinn now has six sacks on the season, one more than the five the 2011 first-round pick out of North Carolina posted during his entire rookie campaign.
[Related: Keys to surviving fantasy bye weeks]
Offensively, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was just 7 of 21 for 141 yards, but connected with tight end Lance Kendricks for a 7-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the game. Bradford and 2012 fourth-round pick Chris Givens connected on a 51-yard touchdown with 11:49 to play in regulation to give the Rams their final points and a 17-3 win. Rams running backs Steven Jackson and rookie Daryl Richardson combined for 27 carries and 111 yards.
Whether or not the Rams can sustain this success without Amendola for an extended period of time will be an interesting storyline moving forward. Amendola entered the game as the team leader in targets (44), receptions (31), receiving yards (351), and is tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns (two), and caught a 44-yard pass on the Rams' second offensive play of the game. The former undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech appeared to haul in a 22-yard pass, but the ball hit the turf before he secured control and the play was overturned by the replay official. NFL Network cameras caught Amendola throw his helmet against the wall in frustration as they followed him to the locker room for medical tests.
Amendola appeared on the sideline in the second half with his right arm in a sling. The Rams announced that Amendola's return was doubtful, but Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com reports that Amendola's collar bone is indeed broken. This latest injury is a crushing blow for Amendola, a restricted free agent who missed all but one game last season with an elbow injury. Amendola had been hoping to parlay a big season in 2012 into a lucrative contract, either with the Rams or as an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
For the Cardinals, Thursday night's game showed that the 4-1 team has serious question marks along the offensive line. In a span of five days, Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb was sacked 17 times for -107 yards, largely due to having to start D'Anthony Batiste and 2012 fourth-round pick Bobby Massie at the tackle position. The Cardinals are one of two teams to have not used a first, second or third-round pick on an offensive lineman in the last five NFL drafts and performances like the one on display on Thursday night reflect those decisions by general manager Rod Graves.
Fantasy advice from the Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Minute:
Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
• Wisconsin forward campaigns to play hoops with president
• ESPN's 30-for-30 'Broke' makes an impression on today's college hoops stars
• Bold statements from the first quarter of the 2012 NFL season
• Y! News: Jerry Seinfeld rips into N.Y. Times columnist