Through five games the Los Angeles Rams have mostly started out strong but sputtered in the second half of games. That was their Achilles heel in closely contested matchups against the San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts. and Philadelphia Eagles.
The script flipped this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6. LA’s offense couldn’t get much going in the first half. Coming out of the half time break head coach Sean McVay called nine-straight running plays to assert a physical presence and help the offense settle in. The results were impressive as the Rams scored 20 unanswered points over the final two quarters to close out the NFC West contest 26-9. Los Angeles is now 3-3 on the season and will look to start a winning streak as they turn towards a more favorable stretch of their schedule.
This is who stood out on an individual level as the Rams took care of business against the Cardinals:
Kyren Williams, RB
We’ll start by saying the offensive line deserves a lot of credit for Williams’ production in the second half. While Williams created yardage on his own, consistently fell forward, and ran through defenders, there were several key runs where the second-year back wasn’t touched until he was already five to seven yards down the field.
Still, Williams broke off several long runs, including individual gains of 27 and 31 yards to steal momentum away from Arizona. This game should also help quell concerns surrounding his limited athletic profile and whether he can truly be effective as an every-down back. He finished this game with 20 rushes for 158 yards (7.9 average) and a touchdown.
Brett Maher, K
While it’s frustrating to settle for field goals, it’s even more disappointing when your kicker doesn’t convert those opportunities into points.
That wasn’t the case for Brett Maher on Sunday, as he made all four of his attempts (including a long of 43 yards) and two point after tries. The first half suggested this game would be a defensive struggle—where the Cardinals had a 9-6 advantage after two quarters—and Maher was dependable when his team needed him. Credit to him.
Byron Young, OLB
Kobie Turner, DT
The Rams found two emerging key players in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft, and Young and Turner could be foundational pieces as LA rebuilds its defense.
Turner was disrupting all afternoon in both the running game and in pressuring Josh Dobbs. Young forced a strip sack on Dobbs and safety Quentin Lake recovered the fumble. While Arizona’s quarterback was frustratingly able to escape the pocket at times, both Young and Turner—along with Aaron Donald—deserve praise for putting pressure on Dobbs consistently.
Cooper Kupp, WR
By far the Rams’ biggest play in the first half was a 49-yard long ball from Matthew Stafford Kupp that helped set up a field goal to cut the lead down to three points. In just his second game back from a significant hamstring injury, Kupp broke the 100 yard mark over the first two quarters and finished with seven receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown score.
Despite missing the first four contests, Kupp is already in mid-season form.
Raheem Morris, Defensive Coordinator
It can be tough to watch LA’s “bend don’t break” style of defense, especially after seeing Dobbs and the Cardinals convert several third-and-long situations in this game. Still, Morris and his defense deserve credit for keeping Arizona out of the end zone and for forcing two turnovers en route to victory.
The Rams put their own defense into some tough spots in the first half—including a fumble by Austin Trammell that set up Arizona in the red zone—and the defense kept the game from getting away from them.
Ahkello Witherspoon, CB
I can’t remember many catches that came in Witherspoon’s coverage along the defensive left boundary. The veteran corner had an impressive pass breakup for what looked like a sure-TD to Marquis Brown (Dobbs also misplaced the ball somewhat) and a dropped interception late.
Witherspoon is putting together a very impressive 2023 campaign.
Austin Trammell, WR/PR
Trammell’s first punt return of the day went for a big 29-yard gain, but unfortunately most will remember his performance in this game for a fumble on another punt return deep into Los Angeles territory that gave the Cardinals a prime scoring opportunity.
These are mistakes that cannot be afforded when you are at the fringes of the roster.
Puka Nacua, WR
As impressive as Nacua has been during his rookie campaign, this was probably his least effective outing of the year so far.
Entering this game Nacua led the NFL with five dropped passes (per PFF tracking data). Sure, this is somewhat a product of his high volume of targets, but it also suggest the rookie has some room to grow as a player. He dropped another pass in the first half of this game that would have scored a touchdown. This drop came at a time when not much was working for the Rams offense.
Nacua finished with four catches on seven targets for 26 yards.