Rams Surpass Last Season's Victory Total
Beat Cardinals 33-0 in London
October 26, 2017
'Twas a very merry trip to London for the 2017 Los Angeles Rams. Twickenham Stadium, south west London to be more specific as the Rams completely dominated the Arizona Cardinals, 33-0 (as in nil), for the shutout victory. The "home win" against their NFC West Division opponent gives the 5-2 Rams one more win than they had all last season when they were 4-12.
More than 73,000 "American football" fans crammed the rugby union stadium to witness all three phases of the Ram attack combine to throw the knockout blow. The offense scored three touchdowns and the special teams registered four field goals to compliment a pressure defense that held the Cardinals to 193 total net yards.
"We've experienced a lot of things in these first seven games but by no means have we arrived. There's a lot of improvement that we can continue to focus on, both as coaches and players," stated Rams Head Coach Sean McVay.
"Being able to put all three phases together, I think if you look at the defense getting a shutout, some of the ways we were able to move the ball offensively. I think it was our best game of the year. The challenge is can we continue to sustain things moving forward."
Los Angeles dodged an early bullet when Arizona kicker, Phil Dawson, missed a 32-yard field goal on the game's opening drive. The Cardinals rarely threatened after that. Quarterback Jared Goff and the Ram offense responded with a 14-play drive ending with kicker Greg Zuerlein's 23-yard field goal.
Zuerlein kicked a 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter, his second of four conversions on the day. The actual knockout blow came five minutes later when Alec Ogletree pressured Cardinal quarterback Carson Palmer into throwing an interception to Lamarcus Joyner near midfield. Joyner returned the ball to the Arizona 18-yard line.
But the real damage was to Palmer who suffered a broken arm on the play and had to leave the game. One play later running back Todd Gurley dashed 18 yards into the endzone for a 13-0 Ram lead. It was Gurley's eighth touchdown and his fourth 100-plus yard rushing game of the season.
Drew Stanton replaced Carson as the Arizona quarterback to no avail as the Ram defense under Wade Phillips continued to impose itself. McVay: "I think the defense has done a great job of continuing to improve... they're playing together and getting more comfortable with the system and the way we want to operate," said McVay.
"I think Wade's shown throughout the course of his career why he's fully capable, because he's done things at a high level. I think it would be silly of me to try to not rely heavily on him as you're getting adjusted to this role and getting comfortable with your rhythm I guess during the games."
With minutes remaining before halftime Goff directed a classic two-minute eight-play drive that ended in a 9-yard quarterback keeper up the middle and into the end zone. That prompted Ram linebacker, Mark Barron, to intercept Stanton's throw on the very next play from scrimmage. Zuerlein drilled a 53-yard field goal to give the Rams a 23-0 lead at half.
"I've been begging them to call that for a long time now for a few weeks... Call it, call it, call it," said Goff on his touchdown run. "So when it came in I was: "Alright, here we go." Sure enough the read was there. We blocked downfield as well and was able to punch it in."
McVay (On Goff): "... I thought the two-minute drive at the end of the first half was outstanding. Did a couple of things where he works through the progression, finds Todd and ends up going for a big gain. A couple of third down conversions and then a touchdown run on his own read was a good finish."
Zuerlein hit a 34-yard field goal capping a 10-play 79-yard drive to open the third quarter. Zuerlein continues to lead the NFL in scoring this season with 84 points. He's connected on 21 extra-point kicks to equal his 21 field goal conversions. Ram punter Johnny Hekker had another excellent game kicking two punts for an average of 55 yards including a 65-yarder to pin the Cardinals.
The Rams wrapped up the complete package in the fourth quarter with a 16-play, 80 yard drive that took more than 10 minutes off the clock. Goff completed a short pass to wide receiver Cooper Kupp who threaded the Arizona secondary for an 18-yard touchdown. Los Angeles practically doubled Arizona in time of possession: 39:01 to 20:59.
"Goff: "We're running the ball well... we pass-protected well like we've been doing all year. Guys got open, tried to find them. We still think left a couple out there where we'd like to finish drives. That's something we'll really be focused on the last nine weeks to the season."
The Rams now have a bye week and will prepare to play the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands Sports Complex, New Jersey on November 5. The Giants are currently in last place in the NFC East with a 1-6 record.
"I think guys have earned the right to enjoy their bye week, get back, get away, get refreshed, get recharged and then when we come back we've got to get ready to go against the Giants," said McVay. "We'll keep that same approach and that preparation and hopefully it will lead to good performances for the rest of the year."