A bounceback performance by quarterback Jared Goff, a strong run game and timely plays by their defense sparked the Rams (8-4, 2-2) to a 38-28 win over the Cardinals (6-6, 2-2) on Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
The victory kept Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay a perfect 7-0 against the Cardinals and also guaranteed a fourth-consecutive season without a losing record under McVay, a feat the franchise last achieved in 1983-86. Coupled with the Seahawks' loss to the Giants this afternoon, the win also allowed the Rams to reclaim possession of first place in the NFC West.
Goff completed 37 of 47 pass attempts for 351 yards and one touchdown, also adding a one-yard rushing touchdown. Running back Cam Akers scored his third touchdown in as many weeks and finish with a team-high 21 carries for 72 yards, while running back Darrell Henderson Jr. added three carries for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, cornerback Troy Hill recorded his second defensive touchdown in as many games, linebacker Justin Hollins and defensive lineman Aaron Donald each posted three total tackles and one sack, and linebacker Troy Reeder had a team-high 10 total tackles in his third start of the season.
The Cardinals struck first via a 59-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kyler Murray to tight end Dan Arnold on their opening drive for an early 7-0 lead.
The drive appeared to be over after Rams outside linebacker Leonard Floyd sacked Murray on third down, but a facemask penalty against Los Angeles kept it alive, then Murray found Arnold two plays later for the score. According NFL Research, it was the first touchdown pass of 50 or more yards allowed this season by the Rams, who had only allowed an NFL-low 11 passing touchdowns entering Week 13.
After seeing their first and second offensive series stall, the third was the charm for the Rams thanks to a 9-yard touchdown run by Akers which tied the game 7-7 with 10:35 left in the 2nd quarter.
Just under five minutes later, they reached the Cardinals 2-yard line with a chance to take the lead, but turning the ball over on downs on 4th and goal prevented them from coming away with points. Despite coming up empty on that drive, Los Angeles later made up for it with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Goff to Higbee to take a 14-7 lead with 51 seconds left in the first half.
For Goff, it was an exclamation point on a stretch starting back at 2:01 remaining in the first quarter in which he completed 14 of his next 15 pass attempts after a series with three consecutive incompletions earlier in that same period.
A missed 48-yard field goal by Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez with eight seconds left in the second quarter allowed the Rams to maintain their 14-7 lead at halftime.
The Rams added a 39-yard field goal by Gay on the opening drive of the second half to extend their lead to 17-7. Then Cardinals responded with a scoring drive of their own, one capped off by a 4-yard touchdown pass from Murray to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to pull within three. That series also included Arizona converting on 4th and 12 from the Los Angeles 40 to keep it alive.
L.A. answered, with a 1-yard touchdown run by Goff to go up 24-14 with 14:52 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Though the Rams defense forced the Cardinals to punt from their own 35 on the ensuing series, the Cardinals got a second chance after recovering a fumble by Rams wide receiver Nsimba Webster on the return. They capitalized on the takeaway with a 4-yard touchdown run by Drake two plays later, trimming the Rams' lead to three with 13:28 left.
Again, the Rams had a response, as Henderson sprinted for a 38-yard touchdown run on the next drive to put the Rams back up by 10.
Los Angeles' defense then came up with a takeaway of their own – a Murray fumble forced by linebacker Justin Hollins and recovered by defensive lineman Greg Gaines. The takeaway set it up at the Arizona 26, and while L.A. was unable to capitalize after Gay's 37-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright, Hill's pick-six moments later made up for it and pushed the Rams' lead to 38-21 with 4:33 remaining.
The Cardinals would not go away quietly, as Murray overcame that interception by throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Arnold to pull the Cardinals with 10 with 2:02 left.
However, the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Rams, allowing them to run out the remaining clock and secure their eighth win of the season.