The Los Angeles Rams began their Super Bowl season by winning their first three games but would fall short of a four game opening streak when they lost their first division game at home against the Arizona Cardinals 37-20.
WEEK 4: LOS ANGELES RAMS VS ARIZONA CARDINALS
The contest was the first of what ended up being three matchups as both NFC West teams made the playoffs and would face off in the Wild Card round. Unfortunately for the Rams, the first game was a tough one sided loss to swallow but fortunately it would be the only loss of the three game series.
The story of Sean McVay’s streak against the Cardinals was repeated again heading into this game as the Rams had beaten the Cardinals eight consecutive times since the McVay era began in 2017. As the Rams would also prove later in the season against the 49ers, all streaks come to an end at some point.
Kiliff Kingsbury’s Cardinals were also 3-0 heading into Week 4 and again like in the previous week for the Rams, two undefeated teams go in and only one would remain.
In the first quarter Matthew Stafford got things moving on the opening drive by hitting Van Jefferson for a 20 yard strike near the sideline and then Robert Woods over the middle for another 18 yards to land the Rams in field goal range for Matt Gay to kick one in for three.
However, a drive later Stafford would take a deep shot to DeSean Jackson but have it fall short and into the hands of the defender Byron Murphy.
Chase Edmonds and DeAndre Hopkins would provide the chunk plays from there. Edmonds with a 19 yard run and Hopkins with a 25 yard catch over David Long Jr. Long would also be the defensive target of the scoring play on the drive which was a 41 yard deep toss to AJ Green.
On the next series, the Rams answer by having Darrell Henderson take three handoffs for a combined 39 yards. Stafford finishes the drive throwing a side arm bullet to Van Jefferson for a touchdown.
Starting the second quarter, the Cardinals find Hopkins for two 10+ yard catches to set up a Murray touchdown to tight end Maxx Williams.
A Sony Michel fumble recovered by the Cardinals defense would set the stage for another dominant Cardinals offensive drive that was highlighted with a third and thirteen conversion when Murray scrambled past Kenny Young and jetted down the sideline for the first down. James Conner punched it in for another touchdown. After both teams add a field goal, the half time score was 24-13 Cardinals.
The Cards would build on their first half momentum by adding another 10 points in the third quarter with another Connor touchdown to a Rams scoreless third period.
With the wind seemingly having left the sails of the Rams in a lopsided game, the fourth quarter saw more chunk runs from the Cardinals pair of Edmonds and Connor who posted 120 yards and 50 yards rushing respectively with Connor punching in the two touchdowns. The final score 37-20. The Rams fall to 3-1.
The Cardinals offense appeared strong in this early season contest, before teams began tightening up on Murray’s pocket mobility and found more success containing the run game. Hopkins is still a difference maker having chipped in four catches for 67 yards in this game but as the the receiving corps found some instability down the line, the Cardinals would eventually struggle.
Later in this series, we’ll get to see what a difference is made by defensive adjustments to the Rams scheme, but also the addition of Von Miller and Ernest Jones has on this particular matchup as the Rams would go on to dominate the next two meetings between these NFC West rivals.