The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 17-13, on Sunday. The Rams are now 3-1 and in first place in the NFC West.
The Cardinals’ gameplan on defense was to contain running back Todd Gurley and make Los Angeles gain yards through the air. That plan backfired. Here are five things you should know about this game.
Case Keenum is playing with confidence
Rams quarterback Case Keenum carved up the Arizona’s defense. On third-and-7 during the Rams’ second possession, Keenum threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to receiver Brian Quick.
Los Angeles lined up in the shotgun. Keenum took the snap, set his feet, and delivered the pass from a clean pocket. Quick caught the pass with cornerback Eddie Whitley draped all over him, broke the tackle, and ran down the sideline for the long touchdown. The Rams went up 7-0.
Late in the fourth quarter, Keenum threw a 4-yard fade route to Quick to put the Rams ahead 17-13. Keenum took the snap with the play clock running down and lobbed the ball up to Quick. Keenum finished the game with 266 passing yards and two touchdowns.
The Rams are not confident in their rushing attack
It’s clear that the Rams want to feed defenses a heavy diet of running back Todd Gurley. However, he isn't gaining many yards on the ground. He only rushed for 33 yards on 19 carries as Arizona’s defense kept clogging up rushing lanes.
Los Angeles cannot keep depending on its passing game to win games. This team does not have a high-octane offense. The Rams need to run the ball and complement it with play-action passes.
Penalties plagued the Cardinals
Arizona committed six penalties in this game. However, the most noticeable one occurred in the second quarter. Running back Chris Johnson ran a 13-yard touchdown, but it was negated because of a holding call on tight end Jermaine Gresham. Arizona had to settle for three points.
Another big penalty came late in the fourth quarter. With the Cardinals ahead, 13-10, Rams receiver Tavon Austin fielded a punt and returned it to Arizona’s 34-yard line for 47 yards. But a facemask call against the Cardinals moved the Rams up to Arizona’s 19-yard line. That penalty led to Keenum’s game-winning pass to Quick.
Brian Quick, the new Rams’ go-to receiver?
The Rams do not have a lot of talent at the receiver position. Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt both had solid games, but Keenum knew who to throw the ball to when the team needed a big play. Quick finished the game with two receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
It’s still early in the season, but Quick is starting to make a lot of plays for this offense. He is a player to watch going forward.
Both teams know how to create turnovers
In the second half, both defenses forced important turnovers. On the Rams’ opening possession, defensive end Chandler Jones strip sacked Keenum on first-and-10 on Arizona’s 43-yard line. The Cardinals recovered the ball but would not keep it for long.
A few plays later, Rams defensive end Aaron Donald strip sacked Palmer and the defense recovered the football.
In the fourth quarter, the Rams’ defense struck again. On 2nd-and-1 at the Los Angeles’ 42-yard line, defensive tackle Dominique Easley stripped the ball out of running back David Johnson’s arms and the Rams recovered it. Los Angeles forced five turnovers in this game.
Carson Palmer injured
Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer exited the game in the fourth quarter due to a possible concussion. He went back into the locker room to be evaluated and was placed in the league’s concussion protocol. He couldn't re-enter the game, and backup quarterback Drew Stanton came in and finished it.
The Cardinals have already said that Palmer is most likely out for their next game on Thursday night.
What’s next for both teams?
The Rams and the Seattle Seahawks are both 3-1, but the Rams hold the tiebreaker for the division lead. Next Sunday, Los Angeles heads back to the City of Angels to take on the Buffalo Bills.
With a 1-3 record, the Cardinals are going to have to start winning games if they still want to be competitive in the NFC West. However, the Cardinals must put this game behind them because they have to travel to face another divisional foe in the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium on Thursday.