Boy, that felt good! That felt REAL GOOD! After weeks and weeks of ugly games, embarrassing losses, and many glass cases of emotion the Los Angeles Rams finally laid the smackdown on someone’s candy ass. Lest anyone shrug this off as the Rams beating on a 2-10 Cards team that Sean McVay and the Rams have owned since moving back to LA, the Rams never make anything easy.
It sure seemed like it was headed for an annoyingly competitive game against a bottom-feeder, but the Rams figured themselves out. Kyren Williams returned in the best possible way and he demonstrated that the offense is 10X better when he’s involved.
The defense recovered after an early touchdown and Sean McVay had the Rams deliver their best start-to-finish performance since perhaps Week 1 against Seattle or, further back, that Christmas blowout against the Broncos a year ago. They are 5-6 and are still very much alive in the playoff hunt. Not bad considering everyone buried this team after that Packers loss. But like The Undertaker, House Greyjoy, Duffman, or any major movie franchise, the Rams never really die.
Kyren Williams Is An Absolute Beast
16 carries 143 yards, 6 catches, and two touchdowns. That was Kyren’s stat line and it looked even more impressive than that. Yes, the Card’s defense was hobbled and especially bad against the run but Kyren hadn’t played since Week 6.
He dominated the Cards all day, having more yards than the entire Cards offense until garbage time, and it’s clear just how good this offense can be when he’s on the field. He had zero negative plays, his pass blocking was terrific, and he largely enabled Sean McVay to stick to the run game which *spoiler alert*, helped the passing game immensely. He also showed what a deadly one-two punch he and Royce Freeman can be. Freeman had 77 yards and the dagger touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Kyren made the Rams offense fun again!
Matthew Stafford Is Happy Again
Let’s get this out of the way. Yeah, that pick toward the end of the half was atrocious even if there was a clear miscommunication between him and Puka Nacua. Aside from THAT though, Stafford was pretty damn on point.
He was 25/33 with 229 yards and a season-high four touchdowns. He dropped more dimes than Jimmy the Squealer and didn’t get sacked once. He moved in the pocket with ease and was actually spreading the ball around better than he had in weeks. Despite Cooper Kupp clearly being limited and Puka having an off day, Stafford had little to no trouble zipping the ball around the field. This is what the offense looks like when Stafford isn’t forced to chuck it every play and there’s actual balance.
Tyler Higbee Is Back?
It isn’t clear if it’s just because it was the Cardinals or if Higbee wished on a Zoltar machine for his skills back but he looked like himself today. He had 5 catches for 29 yards and two touchdowns. That’s right Higbee had TWO touchdowns. He was the first Ram tight end to score a touchdown all year. He also didn’t have a drop, a missed block, or a dumb penalty that killed a drive. It was great to see Higbee look like the guy the Rams extended rather than the guy the Rams were going to trade for a 7th-round pick and eat dead money next year.
The Young Guys On Defense Are Getting It
Kobie Turner had two sacks today which gives him four on the year (as many as Baby Rino has) and he was an absolute force while Aaron Donald was being double and triple-teamed (and held). The Cardinals kept committing penalties just trying to stop the Rams’ front seven. Turner was great, Byron Young caused the Cards to hold on to their field goal to end the half. He was also solid in coverage and was generating a ton pressure as well. Fellow rookie Desjuan Johnson got his first sack, Michael Hoecht led all defenders with five total tackles as well as a sack, and while that’s low, that’s because everyone was involved today.
Donald didn’t light up the box score but his presence allowed every Rams defender to make plays. The young Ram defenders have been getting better with each game and if the offense actually retains this balance they won’t be gassed by the fourth quarter.
Jordan Fuller had four pass deflections. Russ Yeast had a big hit early and excelled in his role as the dime linebacker. Derion Kendrick not only had four tackles but broke up multiple passes and didn’t commit a penalty! Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson had four tackles and multiple pass breakups in his biggest game of the season.
After giving up an opening drive TD the Rams were lights out. The only real ding is they got suckered on a fake punt but to the Card’s credit, it was as perfectly executed as you could ask for.
RIP Pride Of Riverside
Welp, today was a rough day for Lucas Havrisik. He missed a 50-yard field goal (yes McVay should’ve run on third down to make it easier) and missed an extra point. There will likely be a kicking competition. The real enemy here is Matt Gay‘s agent who got him PAID but good for him. He earned it.
Today was the first time since perhaps Week 1 that the Rams looked like they were having fun. Even the first Cards game was painful in the first half. Despite an extremely frustrating season they are 4-1 in division and could go 5-1 if the Niners have nothing to play for in Week 18. They are in the thick of it in the wild card race and have a very favorable conference schedule the rest of the way. For now, let’s all enjoy the most stress-free day we’ll likely have for a long time!