Cardinals @ Rams
Both teams came into this game playing to win, with the Cardinals needing both a win today and a Bears loss to get into the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Kyler Murray was injured in the first quarter and with him went any chance their offense had of overcoming the Rams. The best player on the field was Jalen Ramsey, who had several pass break-ups and kept DeAndre Hopkins in check for the entire game. That was good for the Rams, as they also had to rely on a backup quarterback in John Wolford. Wolford threw an interception on his first pass, which allowed the Cardinals to get off to a quick start, but after Wolford settled in and Murray left the game the Rams were able to grind their way to a lead thanks to a safety and a pick-six. The Cardinals never scored after taking advantage of a short field, and the Rams held on to win 18-7.
Kyler Murray: 8/11, 87 yards, 2 sacks | 2 carries, 3 yards
Chris Streveler: 11/16, 105 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int, 2 sacks, 1 fumble | 3 carries, 12 yards
Kyler Murray took a big hit early in the first quarter and it appeared that his ankle got twisted on the play. He left the game and visited the locker room several times. It looked like he was trying to convince the coaches to let him back in, and eventually, in the fourth quarter, he was able to return. It was clear he was not able to move around or even really plant on his right leg to throw, but he made a couple of big throws to move the Cardinals down the field. When the Cardinals got close to scoring they called what appeared to be a designed quarterback run, and Murray just was not able to get out of the pocket or turn upfield. After the Cardinals stalled out on two drives and it looked like the game was out of reach Murray left the game for good.
Chris Streveler was the quarterback who filled in for Murray, and he understandably did not look great. He threw a pretty awful pass into triple coverage that was intercepted, and just generally he could not get the ball downfield to his receivers. The Cardinals will likely miss the playoffs because of Murray’s injury, and while it is not fair to blame Streveler for that Cardinals fans will have to wonder what could have been if they had a better option as a backup.
Kenyan Drake: 10 carries, 36 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 15 yards
Chase Edmonds: 3 carries, -3 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 28 yards
With Murray sidelined the Rams were able to commit to taking away Arizona’s rushing attack. Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds both struggled to find running room or involvement in the passing game. Drake got the majority of the work, but that was not worth a whole lot. Drake is set to hit free agency, so this may have been his last game as a Cardinal after a disappointing 2020 season.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
DeAndre Hopkins: 10 targets, 4 receptions, 35 yards
Trent Sherfield: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 44 yards
Dan Arnold: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 46 yards
KeeSean Johnson: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards
DeAndre Hopkins was visibly frustrated today, as the combination of poor quarterback play and shadow coverage from Jalen Ramsey limited him to an inefficient 35 yards. Hopkins had one great catch down the field that was called back on offensive pass interference, but otherwise, he was basically a non-factor. Dan Arnold was on the receiving end of a few of Kyler Murray’s passes, but aside from those plays up the seam during Kyler’s brief appearance in the fourth quarter the entire passing offense had a tough day.
Los Angeles Rams
John Wolford: 22/38, 231 yards, 1 INT, 2 sacks | 6 carries, 56 yards
John Wolford got the start today as Jared Goff was forced to sit out while recovering from thumb surgery. Wolford threw an interception on his first pass when he completely missed a linebacker sitting in the passing lane. It looked like it might be a long day for the Rams after going three-and-out on their next drive, but after that Wolford settled in. He did not look like a great passer but he was good enough to hit open receivers, and he was able to use his legs to provide a new element to the offense. The Rams ran a few designed runs for him, as well as some option plays, and if Goff is unable to go next week I would expect that to be an even bigger part of their offense.
Cam Akers: 21 carries, 34 yards, 1 fumble | 4 targets, 4 receptions, 52 yards
Malcolm Brown: 3 carries, 20 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, -1 yard
Cam Akers came in questionable with an ankle injury, but that did not prevent him from handling an overwhelming majority of the backfield work. The running lanes were not there for him, but he was effective as a receiver. The most pivotal play for Akers came on a goal-line carry when he tried to reach for the end zone and in the process he had the ball stripped away from him. The Rams did not lose trust in him and continued to rely heavily on Akers. Malcolm Brown barely touched the ball, but he had a really impressive run late in the game on third-and-long that resulted in a first down.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Robert Woods: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 36 yards
Van Jefferson: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 50 yards
Josh Reynolds: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 29 yards
Tyler Higbee: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 41 yards
Gerald Everett: 7 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards
Robert Woods had a quiet statistical day, but he drew two defensive penalties including one in the endzone. Van Jefferson was the focal point of the passing game and looked to be the receiver Wolford trusted the most, which makes sense since that’s who Wolford had the most practice reps with. Josh Reynolds and Gerald Everett were also key parts of the offense, but overall it was a quiet day for the Rams’ passing offense. The combination of a backup quarterback playing for both teams and how well the L.A. defense was playing led to a pretty conservative game plan, and as a result the Rams never really got anything going through the air. Cooper Kupp missed this game due to health protocols related to COVID-19.
— Dan Adams (@dadams0323 on Twitter)