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Cardinals beat Rams 30-10 to end NFC West skid

Sunday, 08 December 2013 21:06 Published in Sports

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Carson Palmer didn't throw a pass in practice all last week, then completed practically every one he tried Sunday.

So much for that sore right elbow.

Palmer completed 27 of 32, 12 of them to Larry Fitzgerald, and the Cardinals ended an eight-game losing streak against NFC West foes by beating the St. Louis Rams 30-10.

It was the second-highest completion percentage (84.4) in franchise history. Only Kurt Warner's NFL record of 92.3 percent (24 of 26) against Jacksonville in 2009 was better.

Palmer said he had no idea what his statistics were, just that things were working at a nice clip.

"When the plays were coming in I knew exactly where to go with the ball," he said.

Palmer hurt his throwing elbow in last week's loss at Philadelphia. From Monday on, trainer Tom Reed decided there would be no passing in practice.

"I didn't throw one ball, and I was definitely worried about that," Palmer said, "but that was the plan."

It worked to near perfection.

Palmer threw for 269 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions as the Cardinals (8-5) won for the fifth time in six games. He was sacked once.

"I can't say enough about where he is right now," Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. "The level he's playing is extremely high."

Arizona's Karlos Dansby returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown and John Abraham tackled Kellen Clemens for a safety.

Tavon Austin's 56-yard run set up the only touchdown for the Rams (5-8), a 1-yard run by Zac Stacy. Austin injured his left ankle on the play and didn't return. The loss mathematically eliminated the Rams from postseason contention.

The Cardinals lost rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu in the third quarter. Arians said it "appears to be an ACL" injury to his left knee.

Arizona had not beaten an NFC West opponent since downing Seattle in the 2012 opener. The Cardinals lost three in a row this season, including 27-24 at St. Louis in the opener. Arians hammered that home last week.

"I can't use the words he used," Dansby said. "My mom would get at me if I do that, but he let it be known that we were at the bottom of the totem pole and we've got to climb our way out."

Fitzgerald's 12 catches went for 96 yards, including a 7-yarder for a touchdown. It was his most receptions since he matched his career high with 13 against Seattle on Oct. 18, 2009.

Dansby had his second touchdown return of an interception in three games. He returned one 22 yards in Arizona's 40-11 rout of Indianapolis.

Mathieu, the "Honey Badger" having a terrific rookie season, was hurt after returning the free kick that followed the safety in the third quarter. He jogged toward the Arizona bench but his knee buckled and he collapsed, then he was carted off the field.

The Arizona safety came after a Cardinals punt was downed at the Rams 1. On third down from the 5, Clemens retreated to the end zone and was hit by Abraham, who had three sacks to give him 11 this season.

Other than Austin's big run, St. Louis managed just 44 yards on the ground in 18 attempts. Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he was well aware how strong Arizona's defensive front was.

"I thought we would do a better job than we did, but we couldn't run the football today," he said.

In the first half, Palmer completed 16 of 17 for 169 yards and a touchdown. He would have had another TD had Jim Dray not fumbled at the half-yard line. Palmer completed his first 10 passes.

Arizona took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards in eight plays, Rashard Mendenhall scoring on a 3-yard run. The Rams responded with Greg Zuerlein's 44-yard field goal.

On St. Louis' second play from scrimmage in the third period, Calais Campbell pressured Clemens. Dansby stepped in front of intended receiver Jared Cook, picked off the pass and ran untouched 23 yards to make it 21-3.

Notes: Abraham moved past Lawrence Taylor and Leslie O'Neal into ninth on the NFL career sacks list with 133. ... Dansby has four interception returns for scores for the Cardinals in two stints with the team. Only Aeneas Williams (six) and Larry Wilson (five) have more in franchise history. ... Arizona has outscored its last two opponents at home 70-21 and is 6-1 at home. ... The Rams were penalized 11 times for 90 yards. ... With his 10th TD catch of the season, Fitzgerald became the ninth player with double-digit touchdown receptions in five seasons.

Corey Perry scores 18th goal, Ducks beat Blues 5-2

Saturday, 07 December 2013 23:52 Published in Sports

 

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Corey Perry scored his team-high 18th goal and rookie Frederik Andersen made 26 saves to lead the Anaheim Ducks to a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

Anaheim won its second in a row, after beating defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago 3-2 in a shootout Friday. St. Louis lost for the third time in four games and fell to 12-2-2 at home.

Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Cogliano, Nick Bonino and Mark Fistric also scored for the Ducks, who had not won in regulation in their previous eight trips to St. Louis.

Getzlaf, who also added an assist, has a point in his last 13 games. He has 10 goals and 10 assists during that span. Getzlaf missed three games in November with an injury and has a point in his team's past 11 games, the longest current run in the NHL.

Andersen, who won his first six starts, improved to 8-1 with his second successive victory. He leads all rookie goalies in wins.

Jaden Schwartz and Patrik Berglund scored third-period goals for St. Louis, which had won five straight home games.

Anaheim scored three times in the opening 7:29 to chase Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, who faced eight shots.

Bonino converted at 17:16 of the second period to push the lead to 4-0.

Andersen stopped the first 20 shots he faced and helped kill off 4-minute power plays in each of the first two periods.

NOTES: Anaheim RW Teemu Selanne was a healthy scratch after playing Friday in Chicago. The 43-year-old has played on back-to-back nights only once this season. ... St. Louis C Derek Roy is one assist shy of 300 for his career. ... The Blues are an NHL-best 57-16-8 at home since the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. ... Anaheim G Jonas Hiller was given the night off after facing 76 shots and 12 shootout attempts in the previous two games. ... St. Louis has scored at least two goals in all 16 home games this season.

Mason, No. 3 Auburn beat No. 5 Missouri 59-42

Saturday, 07 December 2013 23:50 Published in Sports

ATLANTA (AP) — Tre Mason struck a pose — a Heisman Trophy pose.

Looks like the Auburn Tigers running back will get a shot at something he wants even more.

A national title.

Mason rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns, leading No. 3 Auburn to a wild 59-42 victory over No. 5 Missouri in a Southeastern Conference title showdown Saturday that resembled a video game.

Auburn (12-1) took care of business, then got the help it needed to claim a spot in the BCS championship. No. 2 Ohio State lost to Michigan State 34-24 in the Big Ten title game, which likely pushes the Tigers up to face top-ranked Florida State in Pasadena. The Seminoles routed Duke 45-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

"We won the SEC championship," Auburn receiver Sammie Coates said. "What else do you want us to do?"

Added Mason: "We feel like we beat the best teams .... We feel like we deserve to be in the game."

Missouri (11-2) should be in the mix for a New Year's Day bowl, with the Capital One, Cotton and Outback games among the possible destinations.

But Auburn was the big winner on this day. The official announcement won't come until Sunday night, but there appears to be no other outcome than Auburn-Florida State for No. 1.

"We're playing our best football right now," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, making his pitch for Pasadena about the time Ohio State was kicking off against Michigan State in Indianapolis. "I don't know if any other team can say that."

Auburn is certainly playing its best offensively. The Tigers set an SEC championship record with 677 yards, including 545 on the ground.

Mason had scoring runs of 7, 3 and 1 yards before bursting up the middle on a 13-yard TD that clinched the victory with 4:22 remaining. He carried the ball a staggering 46 times, an easy choice as the game's MVP. He celebrated by breaking out the familiar Heisman pose, his longshot candidacy getting a huge boost.

"You're looking at one of the top running backs in college football," Malzahn said. "He was a warrior today. Unbelievable."

In a game where neither team played a lick of defense, Auburn finally stopped Missouri on fourth-and-1 deep in its own territory, setting up Mason's final score. Chris Davis broke up the pass, not quite as thrilling as his 109-yard return of a missed field goal to beat Alabama, but another huge play for the nation's biggest turnaround team.

Auburn, which was 3-9 a year ago and didn't win a game in the SEC, claimed the title in its first year under Malzahn. The Tigers didn't even need a dramatic finish to do it, holding Missouri scoreless in the final quarter while Mason notched two more TDs to break open a game that was close most of the way.

Missouri had its own impressive bounce-back after struggling its first year in the SEC. But coach Gary Pinkel's team was denied a quick championship in its new league after leaving the Big 12, unable to slow — must less stop — Auburn's dynamic offense.

"There's a real frustration that comes over you on defense when they're coming after you over and over and over again," Pinkel said. "We had trouble stopping it, obviously, and couldn't get it fixed."

James Franklin passed for 303 yards and three touchdowns, while Dorial Green-Beckham hauled in six passes for 144 yards and a couple of scores. Missouri piled up 534 yards — the teams combined for 1,211 yards in a conference supposedly known for defense — but it wasn't nearly enough against Auburn's hurry-up spread.

Coming into the game, Missouri was one of the top teams in the nation against the run and ranked second in the SEC behind Alabama. The most yards they had given up on the ground was 184 the previous week in a victory over 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M.

Mason had more yards than that in the first half, putting up 195 by the time he trotted to the locker room and just 6 yards off the SEC championship game record. He broke the mark set by LSU's Justin Vincent in 2003 on the second play of the second half — and kept right on going from there.

"I've never had holes that big to run through," Mason said, crediting the guys in the trenches. "No one expected 300 yards. I didn't expect it."

Quarterback Nick Marshall shook off two early fumbles, one of which Missouri returned for a touchdown. He ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and passed for 132 yards and another score.

The lead changed hands seven times. Missouri's last gasp was Franklin's 5-yard touchdown run, followed by a two-point conversion, that closed the gap to 45-42 heading to the final period. But Auburn dominated the final 15 minutes behind the play of Mason.

Late in the game, when Auburn had finally wrapped it up, Mason got a hug on the sideline from Auburn's greatest back, Bo Jackson.

"He's one of the better players ever to wear an Auburn helmet," Malzahn said, referring to Mason, not Bo.

"Thanks, coach," Mason said.

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