GLENDALE, Ariz. - Execution on special teams and the defense keeping the Cardinals out of the endzone powered the Rams (2-1, 1-0 NFC West) to a 20-12 victory over the Cardinals (1-2, 0-1) Sunday afternoon at State Farm Stadium.
Running back Cam Akers and wide receiver Cooper Kupp each rushed for a touchdown, as Akers paced the backfield with 12 carries for 61 yards. On special teams, a blocked Cardinals punt helped set up the Rams' first points, while kicker Matt Gay made 2 of 2 field goal attempts and 2 of 2 extra point attempts. Meanwhile, the defense withstood long drives by the Cardinals offense to hold them to four field goals.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 18 of 25 passes for 249 yards in the victory.
Here is the complete game recap:
The Rams defense and special teams got off to a strong start on the first series of the game, forcing Cardinals to punt after a 3-and-out with defensive lineman Michael Hoecht blocking the ensuing attempt and linebacker Jake Gervase recovering it at the Cardinals 35. It led to their first points, a 22-yard field goal by kicker Matt Gay for an early 3-0 lead.
After forcing another 3-and-out by the Cardinals, the Rams extended their lead to 10-0 with 4 minutes left in the first quarter after Kupp raced 20 yards to the endzone for a touchdown after taking the handoff on a misdirection sweep. By the end of the first quarter, Los Angeles was outgaining Arizona 158-26 in total yards of offense while running having run 16 plays to the Arizona's 10.
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A 40-yard field goal by Gay early in the second quarter extended L.A.'s lead to 13-0. On the ensuing series, the Cardinals converted twice on 4th and short situations to keep the drive alive and score their first points via a 23-yard field goal by kicker Matt Prater. The Rams defense forced the Cardinals to settle for the field goal after the Cardinals reached the Rams 5-yard line.
Another field goal by the Cardinals, this time from 43 yards out, cut the Rams' lead to 13-6 just before halftime.
A 49-yard field goal by Cardinals kicker Matt Prater cut the Rams' lead to four with 5:10 left in the third quarter, but the Rams answered with a 14-yard touchdown run by Akers to go up 20-9 a little over four minutes later.
Looking to respond, the Cardinals reached the Rams 26 but were forced to go for it on 4th and 4. It resulted in a turnover on downs, as Rams rookie defensive back Derion Kendrick broke up Cardinals quarterback Murray's pass intended for wide receiver Marquise Brown with 11:29 remaining in the fourth quarter.
A 32-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Ben Skowronek moved the Rams to the Cardinals 33; however, four plays later, Akers fumbled and the Cardinals recovered at their own 3-yard line.
The Cardinals reached the Rams' 13-yard line on the following drive, but were once again forced to settle for a field goal, cutting the Rams' lead to 20-12 with 1:07 remaining. Arizona's ensuing onside kick was unsuccessful, recovered by Los Angeles tight end Tyler Higbee. From there, the Rams were able to take a knee to run out the remaining clock and secure the victory.