Stafford Delivers Playoff Performance Rams Needed – GV Wire

INGLEWOOD — The Rams had a 20-point lead over Arizona with 4 1/2 minutes left at noisy SoFi Stadium. Matthew Stafford’s 13-year-old quest for his first playoff win was nearly over after Los Angeles’ dominant performance on both sides of the ball.

The quarterback still started to run third-and-long through the heart of the Cardinals defense on a joyous, perilous run that ultimately ended in a first down.

Even under tremendous pressure in the playoffs, Stafford never forgot to have fun. He was strong enough to carry it all — and the Rams are driving him to Tampa Bay.

Stafford passed for 202 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score in his first playoff win, and the Rams roared out of the wildcard round with a 34-11 win over Arizona on Monday night.

“What a team effort,” Stafford said. “Our defense was exceptional tonight. The special teams basically set up a score… and we were good enough in attack to score a few points and come away with the win. Just happy to move on.

TD assists to Beckham, Kupp

Odell Beckham Jr and Cooper Kupp had touchdowns for the NFC West champion Rams (13-5), who will visit the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers on Sunday for a spot in the NFC Championship Game.

David Long also scored on a 3-yard interception return as the Rams defense harassed Kyler Murray in a disastrous start to the playoffs. Los Angeles led 28-0 heading into the first playoff game in SoFi, which hosts Super Bowl 56 next month.

Stafford was outstanding in his first playoff game with the Rams, completing 13 of 17 passes without an interception and despite three abandonments. He scored his first playoff TD since January 2012 on a stealthy goal line, and he coolly led LA’s offense while earning his first playoff victory in a career that began with 12 years in Detroit, where his Lions went 0-3 in the playoffs. .

“I think he did a great job leading the way,” McVay said. “He’s still the same great player for me, and he always was before this game. I think it’s good so you don’t have to talk about it anymore. So happy to be able to do this with him. He is our leader there, and we wouldn’t be here without him.

First playoff victory for Beckham, Too

After an inconsistent end to the regular season, the Rams’ constellation of big stars came together brilliantly around Stafford in the playoffs.

Beckham had four catches for 54 yards, including his first career playoff touchdown for the Rams’ first points. He also threw a 40-yard pass in his first playoff victory.

Linebacker Von Miller added six tackles and a key sack early in his first playoff appearance since winning the Super Bowl 50 MVP award.

Murray went 19 of 34 for 137 yards and two interceptions for the Cardinals (11-7), who followed up their 10-2 start with a 1-5 slide. Arizona lost on the road for only the second time in 10 games this season under coach Kliff Kingsbury.

“We didn’t do anything good in the first two quarters,” Kingsbury said. “The Rams managed the game and the atmosphere well. … As an attack, we were just out of sync on a few points at the start which could have changed the game. We never had a rhythm and they made big plays.

Bad first half for Murray

James Conner rushed for a TD for the Cardinals, who have one playoff win since the 2009 season. Murray went 7-for-17 for 28 yards and threw two interceptions in a terrible first half that left the Cardinals trail 21-0 with just 40 yards of offense before making their first initial down.

“Losing is one thing, but when you don’t even make it competitive, that’s another,” Murray said.

Los Angeles went up three touchdowns when pressure from linebacker Troy Reeder prompted Murray to blindly throw the ball out of the end zone to avoid a safety. Long made a shoe interception and took a step to score the shortest pick in NFL playoff history.

The Rams capped their second offensive practice with Stafford accurate 4m throw to Beckham. The veteran wide receiver has six assists in his last eight games since joining the Rams mid-season.

After Long’s TD, the Cardinals finally got a first down seven minutes before halftime, but Rams lineman Marquise Copeland got his first career interception on a deflected pass.

“I feel like we were dominant there,” All-Pro Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said. “I feel like the quarterback was not comfortable at all.”

Kupp’s touchdown catch after halftime was set up by Beckham’s clean 40-yard pass from the touchline to Cam Akers – the sixth in Beckham’s eight-year career.

“He should have guided me a bit,” Akers said. “No, I’m playing.”

Weddle’s Return

Eric Weddle got significant game time for the Rams in the 37-year-old veteran’s first NFL game since the 2019 season finale. The two-time All-Pro safety ended his retirement last week to help after Los Angeles lost starters Taylor Rapp to a concussion and Jordan Fuller to a season-ending ankle injury.

injuries

Cardinals safety Budda Baker left the field on a stretcher in the third quarter after a helmet-to-helmet hit with Akers. The players knelt around Baker in concern before he was taken off the field. He was taken to hospital for further evaluation, but had movement in his extremities.

“It was just a game of football,” said Akers, who had 95 total yards. “It was nothing personal. I have the greatest respect for Budda and this team.

JJ Watt had three tackles for Arizona in his first game since late October. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year underwent shoulder surgery but rushed to help the Cardinals.

Long (knee) and Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth (ankle) both missed time in the second half.

Following

Cardinals: An off-season assessment of what went wrong at the end of such a promising season.

Rams: A showdown with the Buccaneers and Tom Brady, who has far more experience under playoff pressure than Murray.

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