ST. LOUIS (AP)—Kurt Warner and the Cardinals used a 24-point second quarter to win another one in their former home city.
Arizona was in total command after scoring 10 points on turnovers and adding a pair of long scoring plays on touchdowns by Tim Hightower and Jerheme Urban in a 34-13 victory on Sunday. Warner held it all together with his 45th 300-yard passing game, throwing for two touchdowns to beat the team he led to two Super Bowls from 1999-2001.
“A great day,” Warner said. “I always love coming back to this place. Really a good day all the way around for me.”
Arizona (5-3) ran off 31 straight points to win for only the second time in five road games and solidify its NFC West lead against a team that had been hoping to climb back into the race. The Rams (2-6) have lost two straight after winning their first two games under new coach Jim Haslett, and were booed off the field at halftime and at every opportunity thereafter before the Edward Jones Dome emptied out in the fourth quarter.
“They kicked our butts,” Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said. “In the second quarter it kind of fell apart.”
Warner, who won a pair of NFL MVP awards with the Rams, ran off the field to cheers after the game.
“We’d like them to love us, too, we’ve just got to win a couple more ballgames,” Rams rookie defensive end Chris Long said. “We just have to execute better and then hopefully we can keep them in the seats the next time.”
St. Louis had the upper hand early, making a goal-line stand to thwart the Cardinals’ first drive and taking the lead on Derek Stanley’s first career catch, an 80-yard touchdown reception. Eric Moore hauled down Warner on a quarterback sneak on 4th-and-goal from the 1, and Stanley made a one-armed grab after coming back for an underthrown ball to put St. Louis ahead.
“Not bad at all,” Stanley said. “I’m glad the coaches trusted in me to make a big play.”
After that, it was all Arizona, especially in the second quarter when the Rams were outgained 229-18. The Cardinals have won four in a row in St. Louis, their home from 1960-87, and four straight over the Rams overall.
Warner is 35-10 as a starter indoors and was 26-4 at home with the Rams, including playoff games. It felt like home again on Sunday, playing before a crowd dotted with No. 13 Warner Rams jerseys.
“I feel more comfortable here because there’s been so much history here,” Warner said. “It’s always fun to come back, and fortunately we’ve had success here.”
Hightower, a fifth-round pick who got the start ahead of ineffective Edgerrin James, had 109 yards on 22 carries—by far his best effort. He was untouched on a 30-yard touchdown run after Fakhir Brown missed a tackle at the line.
Hightower said he didn’t know he’d be starting until just before game time.
“I expect to do whatever they tell me to do,” Hightower said. “That’s one thing I try not to focus on, how many carries I’m going to get or what I’m going to do.”
Warner was 22-for-33 for 343 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in only his second start in St. Louis since the Rams released him in 2004.
Steven Jackson was ineffective after missing last week’s loss at New England with a thigh injury, gaining 17 yards on seven carries and dropping a sure touchdown pass in the third quarter that prompted vociferous booing. Jackson sat out most of the second half.
“Of course, I heard the boos,” Jackson said. “I’m hugely disappointed in myself. I didn’t play like myself.”
Bulger led the Rams with 32 yards on three scrambles, while going 16-for-33 for 186 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Torry Holt caught a 3-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter for St. Louis and had four catches for 41 yards, all in the second half.
Antrel Rolle jumped on an underthrown pass for an 40-yard interception return for a TD, the fourth of his career and second in two seasons, to get the Cardinals rolling in the second quarter. Bulger’s lost fumble on a sack by Adrian Wilson set up a field goal by Neil Rackers that put the Cardinals ahead at 10-7.
Cornerback Jonathan Wade bobbled a sure interception into the arms of Urban, who had clear sailing the last 30 yards or so of a 56-yard touchdown play that gave the Cardinals a 24-7 halftime lead. The 24-point quarter was Arizona’s first since Nov. 18, 2001 against the Lions, and their first in the second quarter since Nov. 22, 1987 at Philadelphia.
The Rams added Dick Vermeil, who coached them to their only Super Bowl title after the 1999 season, to their Ring of Honor in a halftime ceremony. Vermeil’s name was etched into an upper deck facade in the north end zone, directly opposite Georgia Frontiere, the late Rams owner.
The Rams were successful on two first-half challenges, negating what had been ruled a 1-yard touchdown run by Hightower and a first-down catch by Larry Fitzgerald inside the St. Louis 10 to force a field goal. … Stanley, who has two career receptions, sustained a concussion on special teams in the Rams’ last home game against the Cowboys. … Hightower was the Cardinals’ first 100-yard rusher since James on Dec. 30, 2007 against the Rams.