GLENDALE, Ariz. – Missing six of 22 starters?
Not a problem for the Rams.
Playing without starting center Brian Allen, running back Darrell Henderson Jr., right tackle Rob Havenstein, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, tight end Tyler Higbee and cornerback Dont'e Deayon, the Rams overcame those absences with a strong complementary performance across all three phases for a pivotal 30-23 win over the Cardinals Monday night at State Farm Stadium.
Los Angeles (9-4, 2-2 NFC West) was helped by a sharp performance from its offense, a pair of takeaways by its defense leading directly to points and another reliable performance by kicker Matt Gay.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 23 of 30 pass attempts for 287 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with wide receivers Van Jefferson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp on each of those scores. For Kupp, his performance (13 receptions, 123 yards, one touchdown) moved him past 5,000 career receiving yards, while Jefferson (two receptions, 58 yards in addition to touchdown) and Beckham (six catches, 77 yards in addition to touchdown) each caught their third touchdown in as many games.
Defensive lineman Aaron Donald paced L.A.'s defense with a dominant performance, finishing with five total tackles, three sacks, two QB hits and one pass breakup against Arizona (10-3, 4-1). Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd added a team-high 8 total tackles, plus one interception, one QB hit and two pass breakups, while linebacker Ernest Jones notched his second career interception and six total tackles.
Meanwhile, Gay made all three of his field goal attempts – including a season-long 55-yarder – and all three of his extra point attempts.
Here is the complete game recap:
Donald sacked Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray on the first play of the game, but a 13-yard run by running back James Conner and 14-yard catch by tight end Zach Ertz quickly made up for the six-yard loss and a false-start penalty. A 17-yard catch by wide receiver A.J. Green set up Arizona at the Los Angeles 35, but L.A. held it to a 53-yard field goal by kicker Matt Prater for an early 3-0 Arizona lead.
Meanwhile, the Rams quickly went 3-0 on their first offensive series, with the ensuing punt fair-caught by Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore at their own 33. The Cardinals reached the Rams 4-yard line, but Donald putting pressure on Murray and tipping his pass led to an interception at the goal line by Jones, who returned it 31 yards to the Rams own 32-yard line.
Los Angeles cashed in 10 plays later with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Beckham to take a 7-3 lead with 12:53 left in the second quarter, aided by tough running from Michel and several big catches by Kupp.
The Rams extended their lead to 10-3 midway through the second quarter on a season-long 55-yard field goal by Gay, but the Cardinals answered on the ensuing drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Conner to tie the game 10-10. That score was set up by a 41-yard completion from Murray to wide receiver Christian Kirk.
However, Los Angeles answered with an explosive play of its own, using a 40-yard catch-and-run by Beckham to set up a 35-yard field goal by Gay that gave them back the lead 13-10 with 35 seconds until halftime.
Prater's 53-yard field goal with one second left at the end of the ensuing drive tied the game at 13 at halftime.
The Rams opened the second half with a 52-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Jefferson, then Floyd intercepted Murray and returned the pick 11-yards to the Cardinals 19 on the Cardinals ensuing possession. The Rams capitalized eight plays later with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Kupp to take a 27-13 lead with 9:45 left in the third quarter.
The Rams' momentum appeared to gain more steam on the ensuing series, forcing the Cardinals to turn the ball over on downs on 4th and 2 from the Rams 14 after Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins dropped Murray's pass. However, the Rams were forced to punt on the ensuing series after Stafford was sacked on 3rd and 6 at their own 41.
The Cardinals in turn capitalized on that stop, as Conner's eight-yard touchdown run at the end of the ensuing drive reduced the Rams' lead to seven with 13:38 left in the fourth quarter.
A 33-yard field goal by Gay gave the Rams a 30-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter, set up by an impressive 44-yard sideline catch by Kupp. The Rams defense then made a huge fourth-down stop on the ensuing series, stuffing Conner on 4th and 1 at their own 37.
The Rams were forced to punt on the ensuing drive. The Cardinals added a 49-yard field goal by Prater with 37 seconds left on the ensuing drive, then recovered the onside kick attempt that followed at their own 48.
However, an offensive holding penalty and false start penalty on back-to-back snaps derailed the drive, which ended with Donald getting his third sack of the game to clinch the victory.