GLENDALE, Ariz. – This is the game that Rams’ fans have been waiting for. The Cardinals scored in their opening drive to take the lead, but after that, it was all Los Angeles. Matthew Stafford threw multiple touchdowns and Kyren Williams established himself as a top running back in the NFL in his first game back after being on the IR.
The Rams are now 5-6 and one game out of a wild card spot in the NFC.
Here are my three takeaways:
Getting Kyren Williams back after losing him to an ankle injury was huge for this football team. I initially didn’t believe adding Williams back into the mix would make much of a difference so fast, but he was the X-Factor.
Williams had 204 total yards with two touchdowns and over 100 yards rushing in Sunday’s dominant win. He looked quick, decisive, and probably more of a complete back then what we saw before his injury. With Williams in the backfield, it opens up a completely different package for Coach Sean McVay to use.
It wasn’t just Williams however, as the entire offense was clicking on all cylinders. Matthew Stafford looked like the 2021 version of himself that Rams fans have come to know and love. He ended up with four touchdown passes with 229 yards and a 75.8 completion percentage. The offensive line supporting Stafford was just as good, allowing zero sacks and paving the way for Kyren Williams and Royce Freeman to carve up the Cardinals defense.
In week 11 against the Seahawks, the Rams only allowed 3 points in the second half. This week, it was more of the same. The Rams held the Cardinals (who have given some good teams fits) with Kyler Murray to only 14 points total and 8 points until the end of the fourth quarter in garbage time.
This young core of defenders has far exceeded my expectations coming into the year, and as I expected earlier in the year, they are improving week by week. Kobie Turner looks like a force in the interior of the defensive line, Byron Young looks like an excellent edge rusher beyond his years, and while there have been issues with the secondary, Derion Kendrick and Ahkello Witherspoon have been solid as of late.
Of course Aaron Donald is always the focal point and is still sensational, but Les Snead and the coaching staff absolutely knocked the draft out of the park with the young talent they brought in on the defensive end.
Winning these past two games was absolutely crucial in keeping the Rams playoff hopes alive. After a gritty and heroic comeback win against Seattle, it was clear the Rams gained a bit of confidence and pep in their step coming into Arizona. Now, the schedule favors them and they have a chance to do something special.
On paper, it may not seem like an easy schedule, but compared to the gauntlet they had to face in the first 9 games of the year, it is drastically easier. The Browns, Ravens, and 49ers are all very tough opponents, but I expect the Rams to be in all of those games. Not to mention, that last game in week 18 against San Francisco may end up being a game where the 49ers conceded anyways due to rest.
If this team can stay healthy, I still firmly believe they can compete with anybody in the league.It should be a fun team to watch down the stretch.
The Rams are back at home against a very good Cleveland Browns team next Sunday. Kickoff is set for 1:25 PM PST.