(Reuters) - The Arizona Cardinals posted their best record in the National Football League after a dour 12-6 road victory over the St. Louis Rams on Thursday.
The Cardinals won a defensive contest in a game devoid of touchdowns to improve to 11-3 on the season, tying the franchise mark for wins in a season.
They consolidated their lead in the NFC West ahead of defending Super Bowl champions Seattle (9-4) and almost certainly secured at least a wild-card playoff spot with two regular season games left.
But it was not all good news for Arizona, who lost quarterback Drew Stanton to a knee injury when he was sacked in the third quarter, replaced by third-string Ryan Lindley.
Arizona’s first-choice quarterback Carson Palmer had also suffered a season-ending knee injury in November.
Stanton completed 12-of-20 passes for 109 yards before departing and there was no immediate word on the seriousness of his injury.
The loss eliminated the Rams (6-8) from playoff contention.
After holding their opponents scoreless the past two weeks, they again played strong defense, giving up just four field goals, but on this occasion their offense did not do enough.
“That’s one of the best wins I’ve ever been a part of,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians told reporters after the first NFL game without a touchdown in two years.
“Our defense was outstanding. Everybody wanted to talk all that stuff about how great their (St. Louis) defense is. I think they saw a good defense tonight. It was in red-and-white (Arizona colors). I thought our defensive line whipped their offensive line pretty solid.
“I’m very, very proud of our guys. It was a great team victory. I love it when nobody says you’ve got a chance to win. There’s an 11-3 team and a team that’s always 8-and-8. You figure it out.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Sudipto Ganguly