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Cardinals survive Palmer injury, run away from Rams

Coming on to relieve an injured Carson Palmer, backup quarterback Drew Stanton unleashed a 48-yard touchdown pass to dynamic rookie John Brown, leading the Arizona Cardinals to a 31-14 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Our takeaways:

  1. The Cardinals were down 14-10 when Palmer exited with 11 minutes left in the game. Stanton's touchdown bomb at the 7:49 mark instigated a 21-point blitzkrieg over four minutes to put the game away. The victory was tempered by Palmer's injury, which is believed to be a torn ACL, a source briefed on the injury told NFL Media's Albert Breer. The injury is to the same knee Palmer shredded so severely in 2006 that his surgeon deemed the damage a "four" on a "scale of one to three."
  1. Austin Davis was on his way to a respectable afternoon until a fourth-quarter implosion. Staked to a 14-10 lead, Davis went three-and-out and then was intercepted byPatrick Peterson on consecutive fourth-quarter possessions, the latter going the distance for a game-sealing pick-six. Antonio Cromartie scored on the next series when third-round rookie Kareem Martin sacked Davis to force a fumble. Outside of a perfectly thrown 59-yard touchdown to Jared Cook, it was another week of regression for Davis.
  1. It will be interesting to see if Larry Fitzgerald can continue his hot streak with a quarterback change. Fitzgerald had returned to Pro Bowl form over the past month, playing better than he has since the 2011 season. From the time of Kurt Warner's 2010 retirement through Week 5 of this season, Fitzgerald had posted a 51.9 catch percentage. He's at 83.8 over the past five weeks while showing better run-after-catch ability than last season.
  1. Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell continues to show why he's one of the NFL's underappreciated superstars. Campbell had four tackles for a loss, including a sack that knocked the Rams out of field goal range when the game was still tight. He ranks with Muhammad Wilkerson as the best 3-4 defensive end not named "J.J. Watt."
  1. The Rams defense deserved a better fate. Robert Quinn notched another sack, his sixth in the past four weeks. Safeties T.J. McDonald and Mark Barron helped shut down the run game, along with impressive rookie Aaron Donald. There are signs that Gregg Williams' troops are finally hitting their stride after a disappointing start.
  1. With Palmer likely out for the season, the Cardinals are going to need more production from Andre Ellington, who is averaging a paltry 3.49 yards per carry this season. The offensive line failed to open holes Sunday, and Ellington bounces too many runs to the outside rather forging forward for positive yardage.
  1. The Rams miss Brian Quick, who was the leading receiver prior to a season-ending elbow injury. Stedman Bailey was held without a catch on Sunday after managing just one reception for seven yards in his first start a week ago.
  1. The Cardinals hold a two-game lead in the NFC West, but still have a pair of matchups against the second-place Seahawks and will finish the season at third-place San Francisco. It's a grueling December slate for a team likely to be turning to its second-best quarterback.

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