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David Johnson, Cardinals run over reeling Rams

No Chris Johnson, no problem. Rookie starter David Johnson and backup Kerwynn Williams rushed for a combined 158 yards to lead the Arizona Cardinals (10-2) to a lopsided 27-3 victory over the St. Louis Rams (4-8) in Week 13. Here's what you need to know:

  1. A more physical runner with superior pass-catching skills, the December David Johnson proved to be an upgrade on the November version of Chris Johnson, who had averaged just 2.89 yards per carry over the past month. Arizona's touchdown leader for the season, the younger Johnson has joined Hall of Famer Gale Sayers as the only rookies in NFL history with four rushing scores, four receiving scores and a kickoff-return touchdown. He excelled in blitz pick-up Sunday, easing concerns about Carson Palmer's safety going forward.

With the former Northern Iowa star making his first start, the Cardinals established a season-high 524 yards while tallying their most rushing yards (175) since Week 5. This was a definitive answer to concerns about a balanced Arizona offense losing its leading rusher.

  1. It was the same old story for the dysfunctional Rams offense. Todd Gurley had no chance for success behind an offensive line that loses the scrimmage-line battle week-in and week-out. He broke off a 34-yard run in the third quarter while managing just seven yards on his other eight carries. Nick Foles completed just 43 percent of his 35 attempts; coach Jeff Fisher reiterated after the game that Case Keenum will be the Rams' starting quarterback next week. Beyond Gurley, change-of-pace back Tre Mason and gadget-player Tavon Austin, there are no obvious building blocks on Frank Cignetti's offense. Now 4-8 in the midst of a five-game skid, the Rams are headed for a top-10 draft pick.
  1. It's hard to find fault with a deep 10-2 Cardinals outfit that has reached 300 yards in every game while ranking in the top five in run defense and total defense. Two potential concerns are the lack of a bona fide edge rusher and red-zone inconsistency versus quality defenses. Although they held a bad Rams offense to a scant three points, nine first downs and 212 yards, the Cardinals failed to record a sack on 35 Foles attempts. Signed off the street in mid-October, Dwight Freeney leads the team with 2.5 sacks.
  1. Larry Fitzgerald added another feather to his cap, becoming the youngest player in history to reach 1,000 career receptions. He made his presence felt as a run-blocker as well, springing several big gains. Enjoying an All Pro-caliber season, the 32-year-old is on pace for a career-high 121 receptions through the three-quarter mark of the season.
  1. Carson Palmer is up to 29 touchdowns, which means he needs just two more to break Kurt Warner's single-season franchise record and just four more to set a new career high. A legitimate candidate for MVP and Comeback Player of the Year honors, Palmer is on pace for 4,924 passing yards, which would better his previous career high by 650.
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