The Los Angeles Rams improved to 6-5 with a convincing 34-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals Sunday. The Cardinals fell to 3-7-1 in what amounts to the worst defeat of the season for Arizona to this point.
Jared Goff has received a lot of criticism but he responded in a big way against the Cardinals. The veteran finished with 424 passing yards and two touchdowns. Todd Gurley II had himself a day as well. However, Gurley has still not rushed for 100 yards in a game this season.
Meanwhile, it was a long day for Kyler Murray's Offensive Rookie of the Year candidacy. He finished with 163 yards passing and an interception. Rams safety Taylor Rapp scored as many points (6) as the entire Cardinals offense.
Why the Rams won
The Los Angeles offense woke up Sunday. Goff surpassed 400 passing yards with the help of wide receiver Cooper Kupp, Woods and Higbee. Gurley did not contribute any explosive runs but he consistently averaged five yards per carry all day. His longest rush was just 11 yards. Right guard David Edwards had a couple of penalties but the offensive line otherwise had a great day by allowing one sack.
The defense's play was a contributing factor as well but we will get to that momentarily.
Why the Cardinals lost
The success of the Rams offense has been well-documented to this point. Comparatively, Arizona's offense was anemic. They had just 21 total yards of offense at the end of the first quarter. Los Angeles contained the edges well, which prevented Murray from making the types of game-changing plays that fans have come to expect from him. In general, the Rams defense dominated them up front and made it difficult on their receivers downfield.
Rapp had one interception returned for a touchdown while cornerback Jalen Ramsey had an interception called back by an offensive holding penalty.
Arizona kicked the ball off to start the first half.
In reality, the Rams had control of this game from the first possession. Los Angeles was leading 10-0 by the time the Cardinals had accumulated just 25 yards on offense. The lead grew more and more insurmountable with each quarter until the final period when the game was already in hand. It did not help that they turned the ball over once or that they possessed the football for nine fewer minutes.
On the day, Kliff Kingsbury's team was outgained 549-198.
Play of the game
With 10:51 remaining in the third quarter, Goff threw a wide receiver screen to Woods. The wide receiver caught it at the 8-yard line and it looked as though he were going to be bottled up. Woods reversed field, picked up some blockers, made a few nice moves and was into Arizona territory by play's end.
Woods finished with 13 receptions for 172 yards but inexplicably did not score a touchdown.
Quote of the game
Kingsbury was displeased with the effort from his players and coaches. He expressed his frustration during his post-game press conference.
"It just wasn't acceptable. First game all year I didn't think we competed like we were able to. I didn't think we had the juice, coaches or players. Fans deserve better. This community deserves better than the product like that after a month off and coming back home."
The Cardinals have been eliminated from the playoff hunt but the young team still has a lot to accomplish. The schedule features remaining games against the Steelers, Browns, Seahawks and the Rams again. Following the late afternoon slate of games, they were in position for the No. 6 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Los Angeles is technically still in contention. They are 1.5 games back of the Vikings for the final Wildcard slot pending Monday Night Football between Minnesota and Seattle. The Rams have games remaining against the Seahawks, Cowboys, 49ers, and Cardinals. Two of those will be played in primetime.