Drew Stanton suffered a knee injury in the Arizona Cardinals' grinding 12-6 win over the St. Louis Rams Thursday. Even though the Cardinals still carry the best record in the NFL and likely assured themselves a playoff spot with the victory, they may now be relying on third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley to take them to their first Super Bowl since 2008.
Stanton appeared to hurt his right knee when Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald sacked him with 8:41 left in the third quarter Thursday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Stanton hobbled off the field on his left leg, keeping his right one off the ground.
The knee is the same one Stanton has injured twice before, first in 2003 as a collegiate player at Michigan State, then in 2007, his rookie NFL season.
"We know he has a knee injury," Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians said after Thursday's game. "We have no idea what the extent of it is. He's had a previous one, so there's not any knowledge whatsoever. We'll take it very slow with him and see how it goes once we get in the MRI and all that information."
Stanton was to undergo an MRI examination in Arizona on Friday morning.
The Cardinals lost quarterback Carson Palmer last month to a torn ACL. If Stanton cannot get back on the field, Arizona will cross their collective fingers and fall back on Lindley, who until Thursday night had not thrown a pass in a competitive game since 2012.
Or they could roll the dice on rookie Logan Thomas, their fourth-round draft pick out of Virginia Tech. But in Thursday's game, Arians said that Lindley's experience gave him the edge over Thomas.
"It was not a time to put Logan out there," Arians said. "He's going to be a good player someday, but he's not ready for this yet, and Ryan was more than ready, and really liked his poise and confidence."
Poise and confidence are one thing, actual performance is another. The Cardinals released Lindley in August, after drafting him in the sixth round two years earlier. He saw no action in 2013 at all with Arizona, and in limited duty as a rookie, threw for no touchdowns — but seven interceptions.
In Thursday's game against the Rams, he at least wasn't picked off, but completed just four passes in 10 tries.
In truth, the Cardinals were not doing much better with Drew Stanton under center, averaging just 13 points per game in Stanton's four starts before his injury.