The LA Rams traveled to Arizona to take on the Cardinals for a week four battle of NFC West football. The Cardinals were preseason favorites to not only win the NFC West but represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The game was a classic battle between the teams as the Rams won in the final moments. We will revisit the three key matchups that we highlighted before the game.
Rams Defensive Line VS Cardinals Offensive Line
The Rams were able to win this battle for most of the game and created pressure on Palmer that obviously caused problems. Not only was the defensive line effecting the rhythm of Palmer but it in fact forced Palmer out of the game late in the fourth quarter causing Drew Stanton to be called into action. For a moment, Rams fans had to become worried when Robert Quinn seemed to be injuried as he rolled around on the field in pain but he did in fact return. Along with the pressure was a number of sacks and a forced fumble by Aaron Donald who finally notched his first sack of the season. If the injury to Palmer is serious then it could derail the season for the Cardinals as I stated earlier before the season in our division preview. The Rams were able to once again establish that they may in fact be the best defensive line in the NFL.
David Johnson VS Todd Gurley
David Johnson won this matchup but only by a smidge. Although Johnson was able to out gain Gurley, Johnson lost a fumble and cost the Cardinals points. Gurley was average with only 33 yards rushing but made plays in the passing game. Johnson was actually injured it seemed for a few plays, as many Cardinals were, but eventually returned. One note is that high speed backup Chris Johnson was knocked out of the game leaving Johnson to handle nearly all the carries the Arians could give him. The only reason this matchup was close was the fact that Gurley was able to protect the ball throughout the game, whereas Johnson gave one up. Otherwise it was another disappointment for the Rams, Gurley, and his fantasy owners running the football.
Rams Special Teams VS Cardinals Special Teams
The special teams play was mostly quiet all game, to my surprise. The only really noteworthy fact here was the giant return Tavon Austin supplied that ended with a facemask penalty that saved a touchdown for the Cardinals. Both kickers nailed all there attempts and the Cardinals seemed to have no ill effects from having a new long snapper and punter. The Rams won this matchup just based off Austin’s long return late in the game. The return allowed the Rams to play how they wanted and didn’t force their hand against the Cardinals.
All in all the Rams won two out of the three matchups and surprise, they won the game. The pressure on Palmer ultimately did in the Cardinals when Palmer was injured and helped the Rams reach 3-1 for the first time since Fisher has taken over as head coach. Another note for the game is the strong play of Keenum who has all but cemented his spot as the starting quarterback and should, at this point, not lose his job barring an injury. The Rams will return home next week to face the Buffalo Bills in what could help the Rams continue to add distance between themselves and the rest of the division.