Insider's Perspective: Cardinals vs. Rams

Matt Leinart and Beanie Wells (Getty)

The Arizona Cardinals hung on to a first half lead that Kurt Warner created before he exited the game due to a blow to the head on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. With Matt Leinart taking over, the win wasn't exactly what you would call pretty, but the "W" is still accounted for. Here is what what worked, what didn't and what's next for the division-leading Cardinals.

WHAT WORKED

--The Arizona Cardinals found a stellar balance between the run and the pass. Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells both executed on the ground and showed fans what this tandem can accomplish. The Cardinals No. 1 back, Hightower, took care of 14 carries, which was good for 110 yards. His per carry average on Sunday (7.9) was bolstered courtesy of a 50-yard run.

Beanie Wells
(Getty)

While Hightower puts in the work each and every week, it's just a matter of time before Wells starts closing in on the starting role. Wells shows more burst than Hightower. The rookie averages more yards per carry. He's had some issues holding on to the football, but Hightower did earlier this season as well.

Where Hightower holds the upper hand, is his ability to receive. Hightower has seen nearly 50 passes come his way. As Arizona rolls into the less competitive part of its season, Wells could pull away from Hightower and at least put a big buzz in the Cardinals ear for next year.

--Anquan Boldin, who has been relatively quiet this season, broke the century mark for the second-straight game. Hampered with an ankle injury, he sat out for one game and was limited in others. Against Seattle, he surpassed 100 receiving yards for the first time all season. He conquered the feat (103 yards) once again against another division foe, the St. Louis Rams. Boldin earned just his second touchdown of the season as well.

--Gerald Hayes returned to the lineup after missing two games. He helped limit Steven Jackson to 116 yards, which is a tainted stat as Jackson ran for 48 yards on one play.

--Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Michael Adams both broke up passes in the end zone.

--Rookie Will Davis is quietly becoming an integral part of the Cardinals pass rush. He earned his second sack in three weeks.

WHAT DIDN'T


Matt Leinart
(Getty)

--Matt Leinart failed to get the Cardinals on the board in the second half. All 21 Cardinals points were earned in the first half by Kurt Warner. Leinart went for 10/14 and only 74 yards. His small pitches weren't enough to get the Cardinals in field goal position. There was one bright spot with a 20-yard pass to Early Doucet but it was a day late and a buck short.

Leinart's big-time opportunity to strut his stuff fell short. His performance could be the foundation of his future in Arizona.

--Overall, the Cardinals defense went soft in the second half, allowing the Rams to nearly orchestrate a comeback. With the offense struggling, it was the defense's turn to step up and get the Rams on a long field.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Cardinals continue their road trip next Sunday, with a visit to the Tennessee Titans who sit at 3-6 with a Monday Night Football game still on the docket before facing Arizona. The Cardinals can exploit the Titans short week to likely stay perfect on the road.

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