ST. LOUIS • Sam Bradford missed high, low, left, right.
After capping the St. Louis Rams' opening drive with a touchdown pass to Lance Kendricks, the former No. 1 overall pick endured an 0-for-12 slump that included Patrick Peterson's interception in the end zone on a pass tossed up for grabs under heavy pressure.
No worries. The Rams' rapidly improving defense saw to that.
"Those guys played outstanding," Bradford said after the Rams knocked off the previously unbeaten Arizona Cardinals 17-3 on Thursday night. "They've played great all year, and they have kept us in a lot of games."
Bradford busted out of his funk with a 52-yard touchdown pass to rookie Chris Givens for a two-TD cushion, and Robert Quinn had three of the Rams' nine sacks on Kevin Kolb to keep the Cardinals in check.
The Rams have three first-round picks on the defensive line and the fourth, tackle Kendall Langford, was a key free-agent pickup.
"We believe we can be one of the great defenses," Quinn said. "When there was a play to be made, we made it."
Arizona (4-1) scored at least 20 points in each of its first four games but had no luck containing a pass rush that had totaled just six sacks on the year. The Cardinals got stopped inside the 20 twice in the final minutes. The Rams also had a strong defensive game in a 19-13 victory over Seattle last week, also at home.
Kolb got his helmet knocked off twice on hits, once after getting popped in the jaw. He described the Cardinals' first-half woes as "sickening."
"I'm glad we've got the weekend to heal up, mentally and physically," Kolb said.
The Rams also limited the Cardinals to 45 yards rushing on 17 carries.
"Bottom line, they decided they wanted to throw the ball a lot and that made it kind of a track meet," Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "We've been waiting a long time to feel like we've done our job on defense."
Kendricks caught a 7-yard TD pass in the first quarter, and Greg Zuerlein kicked a 53-yard field goal in the second quarter for the Rams (3-2). Rams 17, Cardinals 3
Arizona 3 0 0 0 3
St. Louis 7 3 0 7 17
StL • Kendricks 7 pass from Bradford (Zuerlein kick), 12:39.
Ari • FG Feely 35, 3:15.
StL • FG Zuerlein 53, 10:45.
StL • Givens 51 pass from Bradford (Zuerlein kick), 11:49.
Attendance • 54,653.
First downs 20 12
Total Net Yards 282 242
Rushes-yards 17-45 32-111
Passing 237 131
Punt Returns 5-76 4-36
Kickoff Returns 0-0 1-36
Interceptions Ret. 1-0 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 28-50-0 7-21-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 9-52 1-10
Punts 7-45.7 7-56.9
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 5-35 7-60
Time of Possession 34:22 25:38
Rushing • Arizona, R.Williams 14-33, Powell 1-7, Roberts 1-3, Kolb 1-2. St. Louis, Jackson 18-76, D.Richardson 9-35, Bradford 5-0.
Passing • Arizona, Kolb 28-50-0-289. St. Louis, Bradford 7-21-1-141.
Receiving • Arizona, Fitzgerald 8-92, Roberts 5-39, Housler 3-45, Doucet 3-29, Powell 3-20, Sherman 2-25, Floyd 1-17, Smith 1-13, R.Williams 1-5, King 1-4. St. Louis, Gibson 3-33, Givens 1-51, Amendola 1-44, Kendricks 1-7, Pettis 1-6.
Missed Field Goals • Arizona, Feely 40 (WL).