Rams Defense Bends, Doesn’t Break, Against Greedy Cardinals Offense

Rams Defense Bends, Doesn’t Break, Against Greedy Cardinals Offense

The Arizona Cardinals invited the Los Angeles Rams to their home for a playdate Sunday afternoon. They wouldn’t allow them to play with their ball. Los Angeles’ defense expressed their disapproval to their hosts.

Arizona was armed in Kyler Murray magic following a dramatic win in Las Vegas. They embarked upon a series of long possessions to score against their divisional rivals. Despite Murray lofting a career-high 58 passes, they weren’t able to break past the goal line, putting in only four Matt Prater field goals in a 20-12 Rams victory.

The Rams’ defensive effort would’ve been memorable one way or another, as Murray became the victim of Aaron Donald’s 100th career NFL sack, all of them earned with a curled horn on his helmet. Well known for speedy endeavors under its current franchise man, Arizona tried to wear out and parch the Rams in the desert: while the time of possession battle was relatively tame (the Cardinals holding the ball for 33: 56), they ran 81 plays compared to 46 for the visitors. Making up a good part of that tally was drives of 19, 16, 12, and 17 plays.

Again, not one of those stagings reached the end zone.

The Rams’ offensive woes are worth examining, as they were highlighted by Matthew Stafford’s failure to throw a touchdown pass the first time he had attempted it in his Los Angeles career. But the Cardinals’ wings were cut by breakouts that went beyond Donald and ensured that there wouldn’t be another performance on his Sin City-based magic.

Derion Kendall was the team’s leader with nine tackles. This was part of a day that also included critical fourth down coverage on Malcolm Brown, who was otherwise in good health. Arizona tried to push the issues through the third and fourth frames. Terrell Lewis was a constant backfield predictor, earning his first tackle of the season and putting Murray under additional pressure. Jalen Ramsey, along with Kendrick, got back on track with two pass breaksups and seven tackles. This included a backfield invasion that brought down James Conner and set up a fourth.

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It’s often said that defense wins championships, an axiom the offense/fantasy football-friendly NFL is apparently trying to bury with each passing minute. The Rams (2-1), however, will continue to look for ways to extend their reign of terror until the offense regains its spark.

Prime time awaits the Rams next week when they continue divisional play against the San Francisco 49ers next Monday night (5: 15 p.m. PT, ESPN).

You can follow Geoff Magliocchetti on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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