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Arizona Cardinals keep playoff pace but lose Mathieu

The Arizona Cardinals know they are working with no margin for error as they chase the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC's final playoff spot. They kept pace Sunday with a decisive 30-10 win over the St. Louis Rams.

Here's what we learned:

  1. Arizona's win was tempered by some terrible news out of the secondary. Rookie Tyrann Mathieu is likely done for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Mathieu had been playing at a Pro Bowl level as the team's starting free safety. His presence will be deeply missed.
  1. A number of pass-rush needy teams passed on John Abraham in the offseason before he finally landed with the Cardinals. Think there's some non-buyer's remorse? Abraham had two more sacks, including one for a safety, and now has 10 sacks in the past seven games. Abraham has given the Cardinals more than they could've ever asked for.
  1. This is probably a wake-up call for the Rams organization, which finds itself buried in the NFC West cellar after back-to-back blowout losses to division foes. The Rams have some good pieces in place, but there's plenty of work to be done in a competitive landscape.
  1. What's better than watching Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald do his thing for four quarters? No one plays the wide receiver position with more precision and professionalism than the 10-year pro. Fitz was particularly proficient Sunday, finishing with 12 catches on 12 targets. Tremendous.
  1. So much for Carson Palmer's elbow injury. The quarterback was nearly flawless, throwing just five incompletions and finishing with a passer rating of 112.1. The Cardinals will need this version of the veteran if they have any hopes of catching the Niners.

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