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Second half opening drive sets tone for Rams' run game in win over Cardinals

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – One play after another, the Rams heavily leaned into a phase of their offense that was almost non-existent in the first half.

For eight consecutive calls on the opening drive of the second half, head coach Sean McVay dialed up a run play, each resulting in positive yardage – starting with running back Kyren Williams ripping a carry for 17.

By the end of the game, the Rams rushed for 174 yards across the third and fourth quarters, and Williams had 154 of them. Collectively, it was the spark the Rams needed in scoring 23 unanswered points to rally from a 3-point, first-half deficit to defeat the Cardinals 26-9 on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

"Not after the first run in the second half," Williams said, when asked if he was surprised to keep hearing his number called time after time. "I knew once I got that first down that I was on, and I was just hoping to get my number called, because I was seeing everything I needed to see. I was pressing the holes and I was setting the backers where I wanted to set them to. Really my biggest plan when I'm running the ball, just manipulate the backers, and I was doing that a lot."

The eight carries during that series at the beginning of the second half allowed Los Angeles to move the ball efficiently, so much so that they didn't call a pass play until the second to last play of it, having gained 60 yards on the ground. The last play of the series ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford to wide receiver Cooper Kupp.

Rams head coach Sean McVay said he was aware that they had only run the ball three times in the first half, but pointed to the limited number of plays they had before halftime as a factor. The Cardinals controlled the time of possession 20:58-9:02 across the first and second halves and had run 42 total offensive plays' to the Rams' 20.

"We didn't have many plays at all," McVay said. "Some of the looks we got talked out of that we didn't want to. We had, what was it, three runs in the first half. So yes, I was aware of that."

So when Los Angeles got the ball to second half, it had every intention of establishing the run and making up for those lack of opportunities in the first half.

"You love it. You love it as an offensive lineman," Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein said. "The offensive line, running back, guys are in sync, you're getting there, you're imposing your will on a defense. You're getting 6, 8, 10, 4 mixed in there, but get a 6 after that. It's obviously an o-lineman's dream to sit there and just be like, alright, we're going to run the ball and we're going to keep going and we're going to stay after it. That doesn't happen without the execution, so like I said, hats off the to the other four offensive lineman and of course (tight end Tyler) Higbee. That guy is the unspoken hero of this team, always."

Added left guard Steve Avila: "It just gets you pumped up. I mean, what you're supposed to be as an offensive lineman, you're supposed to be able to run the ball, and that's what we pride ourselves on doing. Being able to show – I don't even know how many times we passed the ball on that drive, I think it was like once or twice – that, you show who you are, and I definitely felt like the other team felt that on that next drive."

That surge ultimately helped the Rams have a balanced day offensively, with 203 net passing yards and 179 total rushing yards.

Regarding the run game specifically, quarterback Matthew Stafford said "it wasn't anything too tricky" with their plays, "just line up and go play ball." It was simple and straightforward, and must continue for Los Angeles' offense.

"The more of that kind of stuff we can get," Stafford said, "the better we're going to be."

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