GLENDALE, Ariz. -- To put it simply, the Arizona Cardinals defense did a lot of bending but never broke in their 19-13 overtime win against the St. Louis Rams.
On paper the Cardinals defense had a rough day.
Between the lines -- where it counts -- the Cardinals defense was strong and resilient.
"I can't tell you what it means for a defense when you have a performance like that. Our group has been together for 10 weeks, 11 weeks now, trying to learn this defense," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said after the victory.
The Rams offense gained 383 yards on 75 offensive plays. Steven Jackson had 130 of the 150 the Rams had on the ground and Sam Bradford threw for 255.
All those yards and not once did any of those plays end with the Rams putting the ball in the endzone.
Time after time the Cardinals defense gave up yards but no points. Of the Rams 13 points, four of those came on back- to-back possessions that ended with a safety for the Cardinals offense.
In 13 drives the Cardinals forced three three-and-outs. On eight of those drives the Rams had 24 or more yards of offense.
While the Rams weren't exactly going in for a touchdown, they did have a chance to end the game as they lined up for a 42-yard field goal on the final play. A huge push by the defensive line and the big paw of the Cardinals' tallest player -- Calais Campbell -- blocked the field goal and sent it to overtime.
Bending but not breaking.
"They were running up and down the field," Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington said. "We just stuck together as a defense and as a team. We made more plays than they did at the end of the day."
In the end the bending paid off as the offense scored their lone touchdown in a game-tying John Skelton pass to Larry Fitzgerald and rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson took a punt return 99 yards in overtime to win the game.
"I knew it was gutsy," Peterson said of fielding the ball near the goal line. "I'm just trying to make a play for this team."
All season this defense has had to answer questions about learning new defensive coordinator Ray Horton's scheme and philosophy.
Sunday showed signs of improvement.
"We will continue making progress each and every week," Peterson said of the defense.