Above his locker in St. Louis, Cardinal quarterback Neil Lomax has a picture of his offensive line, which he calls the Lomax Protection Agency. Today at Veterans Stadium, he took full advantage of the LPA's services, then confidently declared that the Cardinals are going to the playoffs.
Lomax completed 20 of 26 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns as St. Louis defeated Philadelphia, 34-14, for its fourth consecutive victory.
In ending Philadelphia's three-game winning streak, the Cardinals improved their record to 6-3 and maintained a share of the lead with Dallas in the Eastern Division of the NFL's National Conference.
Lomax had so much time to throw against the Eagles' poor three-man rush that he not only found secondary receivers, he was able to wait for them to break free from coverage. The same could not be said for Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, who was intercepted three times and was sacked five times.
Lomax had plenty of time on both an eight-yard touchdown pass to Pat Tilley with 5:01 to go in the second quarter that gave the Cardinals their first lead, 17-14, and on a 24-yard pass to tight end Doug Marsh, which put the Cardinals on top, 24-14, midway through the third period.
"I had a lot of time to throw -- it was a good feeling," said Lomax, who broke Charley Johnson's club record by throwing a touchdown pass for a 17th consecutive game. "Any quarterback in the league could have thrown that well with all the time I had."
Lomax said the Eagles concentrated so hard on stopping wide receiver Roy Green, they left themselves vulnerable virtually everywhere else.
Green had three receptions for 64 yards in the first half, but none in the second half.
"They tried to double- and triple-team Roy most of the game," said Lomax. "If someone does that, I'm going to find the secondary receivers."
Lomax said beating the undistinguished Eagles (4-5) was important because St. Louis was coming off victories over the Cowboys, Bears and Redskins.
"After three weeks like those, the Eagles are just the type of team that can beat you," said Lomax. "But this team proved something today. This is a playoff-bound team."
The Eagles led for much of the first half before falling apart. Jaworski, who finished 22 of 38 for 340 yards and two touchdowns, threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Vyto Kab for a 7-0 lead.
Stump Mitchell tied the game on a one-yard dive with 12:51 left in the half, but two plays later, Mike Quick sneaked behind Wayne Smith on the right sideline and turned a 20-yard pass into a 90-yard touchdown for a 14-7 Philadelphia advantage. It was the longest pass play in the NFL this year.
On the first play after Neil O'Donoghue's 28-yard field goal cut the margin to 14-10, Cardinals safety Lee Nelson stripped the ball from Wilbert Montgomery and former University of Maryland tackle Mark Duda recovered for St. Louis at the Eagle 27.
"He was just holding the ball out there," said Nelson. "I was going for it with one hand and going for the tackle with the other. I wasn't even sure I had hit the ball, but it's a good thing I did because I was never going to make that tackle."
After a 19-yard pass to Green, Lomax had so much time to find Tilley for the touchdown that he could have gone out and rented a video.
"It was frustrating because I thought we were doing a pretty good job in the secondary," said Eagles safety Wes Hopkins. "You sit back there covering a man and say, 'Where's the ball?' and then you see he (Lomax) is still back there with it. On that touchdown to Tilley, he had all day."
Philadelphia drove to the St. Louis four in the final two minutes of the first half, but on first and goal, Jaworski threw toward Quick into double coverage. Benny Perrin intercepted in the end zone.
In the second half, Lomax threw to Marsh for one touchdown and Mitchell scored on another one-yard run.
Eagles Coach Marion Campbell had no excuses for his defense, which has been Philadelphia's only strong point.
"It's the poorest we've had all year," he said. "Our defense has played some good defense, but today, they'll admit to it. They didn't do a very good job."