The Los Angeles Rams backed up their win against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, defeating the Arizona Cardinals, 20-12. The Rams missed some opportunities on offense, but got a tough divisional win on the road when they needed it.
In a game as close as this one, it usually comes down to a handful of plays that decide who wins or loses. Here are three plays that changed the game in the Rams’ win over the Cardinals
(13:42 - 1st QTR), 4th-and-2 from ARI 33
There are plays that don’t necessarily effect the win percentage greatly, but just set the tone for how the game is going to go. That’s the best way to describe the blocked punt by Michael Hoecht.
The Rams offense only got three points on this drive and didn’t pick up any win percentage points, but this was a sign that all three phases of the game would be firing on Sunday. It was a sign that the Rams were a level above the Cardinals, despite both team coming in at 1-1.
The special teams unit got some heat last week after the blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons. They came back on Sunday and got a blocked punt of their own.
(4:16 - 3rd QTR), 3rd-and-11 from LAR 24
The Rams offense hadn't gotten a first down since the final play in the first quarter and that was as a result of a Cardinals penalty. Since the beginning of the second quarter, the offense ran 13 plays for 21 yards. The offense had gone three-and-out on three straight drives.
After forcing the Cardinals to a field goal, the Rams led 13-9 and facing 3rd-and-11, it looked like Arizona might get a chance to take the lead on the following drive. Then, Matthew Stafford happened.
Vance Joseph brought a five man pressure with Zaven Collins coming on a delayed blitz. Nobody picked up Collins, leaving a free path to Stafford. The Rams quarterback pulled a spin move out of nowhere and then immediately sidearmed a pass to Cooper Kupp at the sticks.
The Rams picked up the first down and went on to score a touchdown to put the game out of reach. Before this play, the Rams had a 70.5 percent chance to win the game according to ESPN stats and info. This third-down conversion picked up 4.5 percentage points to move that up to 75 percent.
If the Rams don’t convert that third down it would have been their fourth consecutive three-and the Cardinals would have had all of the momentum. Later on that drive, Cam Akers scored a touchdown and the Rams’ win-percentage jumped from 78 to 88 percent.
(11:34 - 4th QTR), 4th-and-4 from LAR 22
At this point in the game, the Cardinals best offense was converting on 4th down. Throughout the game, the Rams defense held Arizona to just 6-for-18 on third down, but they were 4-for-5 on fourth down.
The Cardinals had long drives during the game that lasted 15 or more plays. However, those were extended by fourth down conversions and they were only picking up three points at the end of them.
Facing 4th-and-4 just outside the red zone, the Cardinals were looking to go for it once again and hopefully end up with six points to make it a one-score game.
Making his first career appearance, Derion Kendrick lined up across from Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Murray rolled left and looked in Brown’s direction. However, Kendrick made a great play on the ball, jumping the route, and getting the pass breakup.
This was 12-play drive that lasted almost five minutes and the Cardinals came away with nothing. Had the Cardinals succeeded, their win percentage would have 15 percent. With Kendrick’s pass-breakup, that dropped to four percent.