GLENDALE, Ariz. — Seven weeks ago, Arizona’s surprising 4-0 start to the season ended with a thud in a dominant Thursday night victory by the Rams over the Cardinals.
Neither team has won a game since.
The Rams have gone 0-4-1, with a 24-24 tie with NFC West-leading San Francisco the only relative bright spot. The Cardinals’ 17-3 loss to St. Louis sent them into a tailspin of six straight losses and counting.
“We had a really good night that night,” Rams defensive end Chris Long said. “A lot of things came together. That’s our goal every week, to have a day like that.”
That promise has evaporated for the Rams, who in their first season under coach Jeff Fisher started the season 3-2. The loser of Sunday’s game will find themselves in the NFC West basement with five games to play, Arizona is 4-6, St. Louis 3-6-1.
“We see improvement,” Fisher said. “Some of the younger players improving on a weekly basis. Our issue right now is one of consistency. We’ll put a drive together and get points, and then come back and struggle a little bit.”
The Cardinals could say the same thing, especially about their offense, which stumbles into the game ranked next-to-last in the NFL. Coach Ken Whisenhunt, his patience obviously worn thin, benched quarterback John Skelton early in last Sunday’s 23-19 loss at Atlanta and replaced him with rookie Ryan Lindley.
Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick from San Diego State, will get his first NFL start Sunday. Asked if he expects the Rams to try to take advantage of his inexperience, Lindley said “without a doubt.”
“I think you see that around the league,” he said. “It helps seeing film. They played Ryan (Tannehill) out in Miami and they’ve played a couple of other rookie quarterbacks, so hopefully we can pick something up off of that. I think it’s going to happen. You’re going to get tested no matter where you’re at when it’s your first start.”
Arizona tight end Jeff King said that with the Cardinals’ high-quality defense, “We know we’re always going to be in the game.”
The Cardinals have the ninth-ranked defense in the NFL, fifth against the pass.
In terms of turnovers, the Rams are empty-handed and the Cardinals have flourished, but to no avail.