By Cedric Williams
The Los Angeles Rams put on a spectacular show with a 33-0 win over the NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals at Twickenham Stadium in London, England on Sunday. After a wobbly first quarter for both teams, which the “home team” Rams led 3-0, it really wasn’t much of a game at all.
Los Angeles outscored Arizona 30-0 the rest of the day and dominated in just about every aspect of the game. And now the Rams will head home and into their bye week, with a 5-2 record and sole holders of first place in the division.
That’s why we’ve got nothing but high marks all around following LA’s best top-to-bottom performance of the season.
The Rams offense had one of its best days of the season on Sunday. It put up 425 total yards, culminating with 28 first downs and 33 points, and it maintained possession of the ball for almost 40 minutes.
Quarterback Jared Goff threw for a touchdown and ran for another, while running back Todd Gurley rushed for 106 yards and a score of his own. The first quarter was a bit sloppy, but once the Rams got going in the second, the game was basically over by halftime.
It was another spectacular day for the Rams defense, which is quickly developing into one of the better defensive units in the league.
The Rams held Arizona to just 193 total yards and only allowed 10 first downs, while posting the franchise’s first shutout since a game against Washington in 2014.
A couple of particularly enjoyable sights were the appearances of S Lamarcus Joyner and LB Mark Barron. Both have been battling injuries lately, but both were able to play on Sunday. And just for good measure, both players had key interceptions, which helped the Rams take and keep control of Sunday’s game.
Special Teams: A+
Last week, it was new return man Pharoah Cooper who served as the star of LA’s special teams units. This week, the stars were the guys who do the kicking.
Punter Johnny Hekker, who once again was an entertaining hit for the fans in the U.K., averaged 59.5 yards on his punts, which helped back Arizona’s offense up. And kicker Greg Zuerlein was perfect once again, going seven-for-seven on his kicks, which included four field goal makes.
The Rams offensive and defensive units were so good on Sunday, it seemed like the only shot Arizona had at possibly making it a game was if it could make a big play on special teams. But Hekker and Zuerlein just wouldn’t let it happen.
After pulling out last week’s game in Jacksonville, the concern all week was how the Rams could properly handle having to travel over to the U.K. for a big game against a division opponent.
Head coach Sean McVay made the decision to keep the Rams in Florida this week to practice, instead of traveling all the way home. And it seemed clear that not having the burden of all the extra travel had McVay’s Rams fresh and ready to play on Sunday.
These two teams know each other well, so the game plan wasn’t going to be the issue. Sunday’s contest was going to come down to execution, and the Rams were clearly in a better position, better mind frame, better focus, better everything to pull out the win.
That’s going to go down as another kudo in the early career of the new coach McVay.