Looking to snap a two-game losing streak, the Los Angeles Rams resembled the team that had been seen during the first 11 weeks of the season, and not the previous two. Rams quarterback Jared Goff found himself of old and was efficient in Sundays 31-9 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.
Goff completed 19-of-24 passes for 216 yards and one passing touchdown, also registering a rushing touchdown for only his fourth time of his career.
“[Jared] commanded the game and had great control throughout the whole course of it,” said Rams coach Sean McVay.
“He was extremely efficient, and he led the team. That’s what you want from your quarterback. He did a great job and that’s exactly what we expected.”
Despite Todd Gurley expected to be in the lineup, Rams (12-3) training staff ultimately decided to keep Gurley inactive against Arizona (3-12), while he still recovers from a knee injury.
That decision seemed to work out perfectly for former Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson. The newly acquired Rams tailback, who has only been with the team for five days, rushed for 167 yards — one shy of his career high — on 20 carries.
Los Angeles offense finished with 269 rushing yards and did not miss a beat thanks to their new weapon who stepped up big.
“That has been my game I have been in for six years,” said Anderson. “If you paid any attention of football with C. J. Anderson in it, you wouldn’t be surprised at all.”
Robert Woods led the team in receiving with six receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown. Woods also found the endzone with a four-yard rush score for the first time of his career.
In the fourth quarter, the former USC star receiver seemingly put the game away after he broke loose for a 39-yard play-action touchdown pass.
“We’d been setting them up with the run, and the safeties and the corner played aggressive and really just went with the fake,” Woods said after he gave the Rams a 31-9 lead. “I popped out the back end and it was a beautiful pass.”
Defensively, Los Angeles allowed only 263 total yards and was anchored by their MVP candidate in Aaron Donald.
Donald sacked Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen three times for a total loss of 21 yards. Donald currently has 19.5 sacks this season, setting a new franchise record for most sacks in a season – since sacks became an official stat in 1982.
“Anytime you’re rewarded and be a part of history — it’s a special moment,” said Donald.
Rosen completed 12 of 23 passes for 87 yards and was often on the ground, being sacked four times. He rushed for 49 yards and admitted his leadership skills are growing more steady each game.
“I’ve started to evolve as a leader a little bit,” said Rosen on his tough rookie campaign season. “I think guys are starting to listen to me. I think that they feel I’m starting to emerge into kind of one of those guys. I have to be better for them as a leader.”
Even in the loss, Cardinal fans enjoyed Larry Fitzgerald taking the field in Arizona for quite possibly the final time with retirement looming.
“I couldn’t even bear to look honestly,” said the 15-year veteran receiver, on his ovation and pregame tribute on the jumbotron. “It’s a little uncomfortable to be honest. I play a team sport. I’m not Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods, guys who do individual things. Everything I’ve done in my life is in the context of a team setting.”
The future Hall of Famer scored the sole touchdown of the game for Arizona, throwing a 32-yard pass to tailback David Johnson on a designed trick play that worked to perfection.
“First touchdown I’ve thrown since high school,” added Fitzgerald on the score. “I had the same pass a couple of years ago in Seattle and Michael Bennett got a little close to me. I’m not used to having defensive linemen around me so I short-armed it a little.”
With the win, Los Angeles remained with the second-best record in the NFC behind the New Orleans Saints, who clinched the conference’s top seed and a first round bye. The Rams are one game ahead of third-place Chicago and need a win against the 49ers if they would like to grab a bye-week of their own.
The Bears currently hold the tiebreaker over the Rams, if Los Angeles were in fact to fall to San Francisco next week. Kickoff against the 49ers is scheduled for 1:25 p.m. at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.