GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Seven weeks ago, Arizona's surprising 4-0 start to the season ended with a thud in a dominant Thursday night victory by the Rams over the Cardinals.

Neither team has won a game since.

The Rams have gone 0-4-1, with a 24-24 tie with NFC West-leading San Francisco the only relative bright spot. The Cardinals' 17-3 loss to St. Louis sent them into a tailspin of six straight losses and counting.

"We had a really good night that night," Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "A lot of things came together. That's our goal every week, to have a day like that."

That promise has evaporated for the Rams, who in their first season under coach Jeff Fisher started the season 3-2. The loser of Sunday's game will find themselves in the NFC West basement with five games to play, Arizona is 4-6, St. Louis 3-6-1.

"We see improvement," Fisher said. "Some of the younger players improving on a weekly basis. Our issue right now is one of consistency. We'll put a drive together and get points, and then come back and struggle a little bit."

The Cardinals could say the same thing, especially about their offense, which stumbles into the game ranked next-to-last in the NFL. Coach Ken Whisenhunt, his patience obviously worn thin, benched quarterback John Skelton early in last Sunday's 23-19 loss at Atlanta and replaced him with rookie Ryan Lindley.

Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick from San Diego State, will get his first NFL start Sunday. Asked if he expects the Rams to try to take advantage of his inexperience, Lindley said "without a doubt."

"I think you see that around the league," he said. "It helps seeing film. They played Ryan (Tannehill) out in Miami and they've played a couple of other rookie quarterbacks, so hopefully we can pick something up off of that. I think it's going to happen. You're going to get tested no matter where you're at when it's your first start."

Arizona tight end Jeff King said that with the Cardinals' high-quality defense, "We know we're always going to be in the game."

The Cardinals have the ninth-ranked defense in the NFL, fifth against the pass.

In terms of turnovers, the Rams are empty-handed and the Cardinals have flourished, but to no avail.

St. Louis has no takeaways in five straight games. The Rams' last one came in that Arizona game, when Kevin Kolb, who was sacked nine times, fumbled after a hit by Robert Quinn and William Hayes recovered for St. Louis. Remarkably, that is the only opponents' fumble the Rams have recovered all season.

In the last 62 years, only the Rams, the 2011 Indianapolis Colts and 2006 Washington Redskins have gone five games in a row without a takeaway. Since 1950, no team has gone six in a row.

"It's been bad," Long said. "We have to find a way to get the ball out. We've been working hard at it, but for whatever reason, the ball hasn't bounced our way. All 11 guys on defense need to take part in trying to create turnovers. Like I said, we've emphasized it, and we've even executed it at times, but the ball just hasn't bounced our way. But we've got to create our own luck."

St. Louis has intercepted eight passes. Arizona, by comparison, has recovered eight opponents' fumbles and picked off 14 passes.

By contrast, last week the Falcons had six turnovers on one fumble and five interceptions against Arizona, but somehow still won. Matt Ryan was intercepted five times and threw for zero touchdowns yet won the game, the first time that's happened since Bart Starr did it for Green Bay 45 years ago.

The outcome emphasized how bad Arizona's offense has been. While the Cardinals finally got their running game going, with LaRod Stephens-Howling rushing for a career-best 127 yards, Lindley and Skelton were a combined 11 of 27 for 41 yards.

"Someone told me that the odds of winning the game with six turnovers is something like 97 percent (against you)," Fisher said. "So, things happen. You have to take advantage of it. We don't expect to see the same offense that played last week.'

The Cardinals should benefit from the return of running back Beanie Wells, back from the injured/designated to return list. Wells missed seven games after going down with a turf toe injury in Week 3 against Philadelphia. While the toe was the official reason for placing him on the NFL's new list, Wells said the real benefit was resting his surgically repaired right knee, which had bothered him in the early going.

St. Louis, coincidentally, also has a Wells coming back from the injured/designated for return list. Center Scott Wells, sidelined with a foot injury, will return for the first time since the season opener.

The Rams followed their frustrating tie with San Francisco with a 27-13 home loss to a New York Jets team that was pounded by New England 49-19 Thanksgiving night. Since the win over Arizona, there's also been a 45-7 whipping by New England in a home game played in London, and a 30-20 loss in St. Louis to Green Bay.

Sam Bradford was 23 of 44 for 170 yards and two touchdowns and was intercepted once against the Jets. St. Louis also fumbled away the ball twice, while the Jets, of course, had no turnovers.

There could be opportunities to do just that against a rookie quarterback making his first start behind an offensive line that has, to put it mildly, struggled all season. The unit has played better of late, however, with the addition of rookie Nate Potter, a seventh-round draft pick, at left tackle.

With Bobby Massie at right tackle, that means rookies will start at both tackles and at quarterback for Arizona.

"You'd rather be like a team like San Francisco that didn't even play any of their rookies," Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said, "but sometimes that happens. The guys have to step up. Hopefully it makes us a better team in the long run, but the guys are working hard to try to play better. Everybody is, and hopefully it will show up Sunday."


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