The NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams sent the Arizona Cardinals back to the desert to start packing for their preferred vacation destinations with a 34-11 victory. LA led from start to finish, fueled by a raucous crowd. After the game, head coach Sean McVay spoke to the media about the first playoff win in SoFi Stadium.
McVay on the offense firing on all cylinders
“I think it was the early down efficiency. I thought our guys got great removal up front. I thought our backs saw the lanes the right way. I thought Matthew when we did throw the football made great decisions, threw the ball accurately, got a lot of different guys involved. That’s exactly what we want to be able to do and that’s where you can be tough to defend.”
It was exactly what you want to see from the Rams offense. They won in the trenches allowing only one sack and opened up massive holes for Cam Akers and Sony Michel. The only thing missing was a jet sweep.
McVay on the defense locking up the Cards
“They played really well overall I think. What they did in the first half, I think they held them to 40 yards. I think it was one of the best performances in playoff history in the first (half).”
The defense stole the show tonight. Aaron Donald and company harassed Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense as soon as they arrived at the stadium. The Rams held Arizona to 183 total yards and didn’t give up a single conversion on third down on nine attempts.
RAMS PICK OFF KYLER MURRAY FOR SIX! pic.twitter.com/fV8PW1djFH— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 18, 2022
McVay impressed with Cam Akers
“It’s unbelievable. And really I don’t think the stats tell the story of how good he looked. Leveling some runs off. Got a couple big time runs called back. Also, thoughts and prayers for Budda Baker.”
Akers is just different. He shattered both the timeline for a return for a torn Achilles tendon and would be Cardinals tacklers. He finished runs like his life depended on it. The fresh-legged running back had 55 yards on 17 carries and one catch on an Odell Beckham Jr. pass that went for 40 yards.
Donald on the defensive keys to victory
“Guys were just flying around. Playing fast, making big plays when we needed it. That’s what it’s about. When you got 11 guys out there, you expect everybody to make a play at any time. A bunch a guys did that and did a good job of containing him, making the quarterback uncomfortable. He threw the ball to us, we took advantage of it.”
Kyler Murray looked like he wanted nothing to do with that defense in blue and sol. The Arizona quarterback was held to 55 percent passing with two interceptions, including a pick six.
Kyler made a business decision once he saw Aaron Donald pic.twitter.com/NzZxBIk7iA— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 18, 2022
Donald on Von Miller’s sack opening up the floodgates
“It was everything. Like I’ve been saying, Von’s been playing lights out, making a lot of big splash plays for us. It’s playoff ball so you expect that. Hopefully a lot more plays like that coming.”
Miller had a day with a team-high six tackles and one sack. LA must find the money to keep him beyond this season.
Donald on Rams fans making a difference
“It was fun. It’s huge when you got the fans behind you, making a lot of noise. It kind of gets you amped up. You kind of start getting the fans into the game a little bit. It definitely was a great environment today with the fans. They did an awesome job making it loud for them and picking us up when we needed it.”
That noise was worth the billions of dollars it cost to build SoFi. Shout out to all the fans that showed up and showed out.
The energy in this place is electric. pic.twitter.com/cPa7fFIE4X— SoFi Stadium (@SoFiStadium) January 18, 2022
Akers on collision with Baker
“It was just a football play. Nothing personal, obviously. Got the utmost respect for Budda, that team in general. I’m hoping he’s going good. Just a football play though.”
Akers certainly lowered the boom on Baker to finish the run, though it got called back for holding. Early reports have Baker being evaluated for a concussion. Thankfully, he had movement in all of his extremities.
Prays up to Budda . I didn’t know he was hurt after the play but I have nothing but respect for him .— Cam akers (@thereal_cam3) January 18, 2022
Akers on returning from torn Achilles
“Just blessed, man. Being able to come off an injury like that, five and a half months after surgery, nobody’s done it. Just to be able to be in that category, the first person to do that, it’s a blessing.”
If you told me Akers would look as good as he did only six months removed from the injury, I would not believe you. Thankfully seeing is believing. He looked amazing.
Cam Akers this recovery from the achilles injury is outrageous pic.twitter.com/4ikLnDKjno— Liam (@Blutman27) January 18, 2022
Akers on the running backs being featured in the win
“It was part of the game plan. We knew we were going to run the ball a lot. Knew they were going to lean on the running backs a lot. We were ready...That’s a one, two punch. Sony (does) a great job running the ball, great job blocking. For me to come in and complement him thus far from everything that he has done, I think we’re a great one, two punch.”
Akers and Michel combined for 113 yards on 30 carries. Pound that damn rock.
Stafford on his first career playoff win
“I think it means a lot more to you guys. I just want be a part of this team and help us win.”
Stafford finally got his first playoff win in blowout fashion, thanks to an all-around team effort. He continually deflected praise to both the defense and special teams. Congratulations on the first of many playoff wins.
ODELL BECKHAM JR. WHAT A CATCH— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) January 18, 2022
First TD +975 ✅pic.twitter.com/BrLoyRQLxh
Stafford on the offensive line
“It was outstanding. Both in the run game and the pass game...Just proud of those guys, the way they played.”
The offensive line bounced back after a dreadful performance last week. The return of J.J. Watt was not enough to change the outcome in the trenches
Stafford on his performance
“I felt like I was putting the ball in the right place for the majority of the night. Had to throw one away towards Coop (Cooper Kupp) one time, but other than that felt like the ball was going to the right place in a pretty good spot.”
Stafford was an efficient 13-of-17 for 202 yards. He added 16 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. Most importantly, there were no costly turnovers. This version of Stafford is exactly what this offense needs for the rest of the post season.
Miller on the defense coming together
“I think we’re just gelling at the right time. We’ve been doing the same thing since I got here and it just feels like it’s working.”
Forcing teams into passing situations is so exciting with this pass rush. It really feels like every pass rush opportunity can end with a hit on the quarterback with this defensive front.
Miller on getting the Cardinals off the field early and often
“I think the three-and-outs were key. To get three-and-outs early and we scored on those three-and-outs. It just created an advantage for us early and we were just able to hold them off.”
The defense started the game with five consecutive three and outs, including a David Long Jr. pick six on third down. Arizona was done before they even got started.
Eric Weddle on getting his return to action
“The first few plays, I was playing too fast. I just reminded myself to let the plays come to me and make sure were all on the same page communicating, and after that it was like I’ve been playing this whole time.”
This was an ideal scenario for Weddle’s return; a pass heavy blowout that was never in doubt.
This was the epitome of a team victory. The offense was efficient and the defense was dominant. The run game and defense travels in the playoffs and Los Angeles will certainly need to pack both for Tampa Bay.