Defense Leads the Way in Shutout Victory

TWICKENHAM, England — Shutout. Blank. Goose egg.

It's been a while since the Rams have been able to use those terms to describe a defensive performance — nearly three years to be exact.

The last time the club held an opponent scoreless was in 2014 with a 24-0 victory over Washington, which sported a coaching staff that coincidentally included Rams head coach Sean McVay. That game was the second of back-to-back shutouts, as the previous week the Rams beat the Raiders 52-0.

Under McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Rams have made considerable defensive progress over the last few weeks. Los Angeles allowed only six points to Dallas in the second half of a 35-30 victory. Then Seattle scored just 16 points in Week 5. And the Jaguars managed only 17 points in Week 6.

While there's still room to grow, a lot came together defensively for the Rams to shutout the Cardinals 33-0 on Sunday.

"It's a great feeling to be able to do that," middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said postgame. "I think last time we did that was 2014 or something like that. So for us to do that all the way in another country against a division opponent, it definitely brings a lot of energy and a lot of confidence."

"Anytime you let the offense get zero points — definitely with the offense they have with the players on their offense, and you do something like that — it's confidence," defensive lineman Aaron Donald said. "A lot to build off."

L.A. held Arizona to just 193 total yards, 10 first downs, and 3-of-12 on third down. It's the first time the franchise has held an opponent to fewer than 200 yards since November 2015.

A week after rushing for 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns agains the Buccaneers, running back Adrian Peterson finished with just 21 yards on 11 carries. Los Angeles also kept wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in check, as he finished with only three receptions for 29 yards.

"I don't think it really matters who it is — I think we go out and play football the way we're supposed to play it and be disciplined and execute and we'll come out with great results like we did tonight," inside linebacker Mark Barron said.

Barron played Sunday's game with cast on his hand for a thumb injury, but was still able to record an interception in the second quarter.

"I caught it with both hands — well this hand and the club," Barron said wryly after Sunday's game. "Just caught the ball — he threw it to me and I caught it."

That was Los Angeles' second interception of the game — this one off of quarterback Drew Stanton. Earlier in the period, Ogletree's pass rush forced starting quarterback Carson Palmer into an errant throw safety Lamarcus Joyner picked off in the middle of the field. Joyner's second interception of the season set the Rams up for an 18-yard Todd Gurley touchdown run.

The starting safety had missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, and seemed thrilled after getting back on the field.

"I was missing this game," Joyner said, crediting head trainer Reggie Scott for an effective treatment program.

"I mean I felt physically healthy, but mentally and physically I have to get back trusting my technique and fundamentals and trusting coaching and getting the cobwebs off," Joyner added. "But I'll do that."

Entering the week tied for No. 2 with 20.0 sacks, Los Angeles put up three more — one by Donald, one by Matt Longacre, and one by Ethan Westbrooks. Longacre leads the team with 4.0 sacks. Donald has 3.0 on the season, also recording a pair of tackles for loss against the Cardinals.

Still, putting together such a complete performance heading into the bye week appears to have some positive implications for the defensive unit as L.A. heads into the second half of the season.

"I think the defense has done a great job of continuing to improve and I think that's a credit to our coaches and our playing staff," McVay said. "Obviously, getting Aaron back and getting him into a rhythm you see why he is an All-Pro caliber player as good as anybody. But I think they are playing together, they're getting more and more comfortable with the system and the way that we want to operate and I think ultimately at the end of the day, however you win you feel good about that result."

"It's just us coming into our own, taking this defense in, us as a team just playing well together," Ogletree said. "We didn't start how we wanted to start. We knew we had the players and the ability to do a lot of stuff, but you just have to keep chugging along, keep plugging at it until you get it right. We still have some things to work on and get better at.

"We definitely haven't peaked yet for sure, and there's definitely a lot more to come," Ogletree continued. "But I am confident in the guys that are here to be able to get that done."

Check out the photos during Week 7 Cardinals vs. Rams in London.

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