Kevin Kolb sacked nine times in Cardinals loss to Rams
But at the top of the list has to be the lack of protection quarterback Kevin Kolb received from his offensive line.
Kolb was bruised, battered and bloodied for much of Thursday's prime time contest in St. Louis, as the Rams' defense sacked the six-year veteran a staggering nine times.
"It's always decided up front, that's football," tight end Jeff King told the Cardinals Radio Network after the game. "We weren't consistent up front tonight and it showed."
The Cardinals came into Week 5 second-worst in the NFL in sacks allowed with 14, and now have allowed a combined 17 in their last two games.
Kolb became just the second quarterback in franchise history to get sacked at least 16 times in a two-week span, joining Jake Plummer, who achieved the dubious feat back in Nov. 1997.
"I don't know, I haven't seen the tape," head coach Ken Whisenhunt said when asked how big a role the offensive line played in the Cardinals' loss. "It's always easy to say you had this many sacks up front. But you have to look at some of the factors that contributed.
"If we make a play or two to take some pressure off the offensive line, we could do some different things. And we didn't get that done."
On the flip side, the Rams' defense not only contributed to Arizona's first loss of 2012, but more than doubled their season sack total. In 2011, the Rams also led the league with 55 total sacks.
Defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long had a field day against starting tackles D'Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie. The two combined for four sacks and eight tackles on the evening.
The Cardinals are without starting left tackle Levi Brown for the season after the former No. 5 overall pick underwent surgery on Aug. 21 to repair a torn right biceps injury he suffered in a preseason win over the Raiders, and veteran Jeremy Bridges is out for the year as well with torn thumb ligaments.
With the Cardinals playing from behind all night, offensive coordinator Mike Miller invited the Rams to throw consistent blitz packages at Kolb and Co., electing to go almost exclusively to the pass. Kolb threw the ball 50 times, while the Cardinals' running corps had just 17 carries for 45 yards.
"Offensively, we had our share of problems today," said defensive end Vonnie Holliday. "They spent too much time in our backfield. We definitely need to step up on our offensive line.
"Those guys need to give Kolb some time to make plays down the field. We had opportunities to make plays down the field, but Kolb didn't even have time to see them."
To add insult to injury, Kolb's protection in the backfield took a hit in the second half, as starting running back Ryan Williams went down with an apparent left shoulder injury.
The Rams have now eclipsed their win total from 2011, and sit a game back of first place in the NFC West. The previously unbeaten Cardinals now have 10 days to lick their wounds and fix a beleaguered offensive line that won't get any favors when they face a tough Buffalo Bills' pass rush on Oct. 14.
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