The Los Angeles Rams took down the Arizona Cardinals on the road. It was a resounding 37-14 NFC West victory for the Rams, and they’ve now put together consecutive wins for the first time this season. LA will move to 5-6 with the chance to get back to .500 next week at home versus the hobbled Cleveland Browns. A playoff spot once seemed like a distant hope, but the Rams can realistically insert themselves back into the fold if they continue to play as they did against Arizona.
The return of running back Kyren Williams gave Los Angeles a much needed offensive spark, and Williams amassed production on both the ground and through the air. Matthew Stafford also had his best statistical outing of the 2023 campaign so far, and the Rams may very well be peaking at the right time and when they need it the most.
Who contributed to the divisional win on an individual level? Let’s take a look at both the positive and negative performances in this one.
Kyren Williams, RB
Williams rushed 16 times for 143 yards at an impressive 8.9 yards per clip. His longest run when for 56 yards. He also caught all six of his targets for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Williams missed the last four games due to an ankle injury and a stint on the injured reserve list—and this game proves just how much he means to this current version of the Rams offense.
Williams was the centerpiece of the LA offense in this game, just as he’s been when the offense has performed at its best this season. Sean McVay expressed some concerns with overworking Williams, and it was encouraging to see the team mix in veteran Royce Freeman for occasional series. Freeman had 13 carries for another 77 yards (5.9 average). This tandem should help Williams stay fresh over the remainder of the season, especially if the Rams can put together a playoff push.
Tyler Higbee, TE
The career of Tyler Higbee has been streaky, but when he’s on he can produce with the best tight ends in the NFL. Today was no exception, where Higbee caught LA’s first two touchdown scores on the day. He finished with five receptions for 29 yards the the two scores (his first on the season).
Higbee has battled injuries of late, so it’s good to see him play a major role in the offense. Hopefully this is also a sign of things to come for him.
Tyler Higbee:— NFL Fantasy Football (@NFLFantasy) November 26, 2023
He has 15.2 points before halftime which is the most he’s scored in A GAME all season pic.twitter.com/EdL9b9Zkoh
Kobie Turner, DT
The Rams dominated the Cardinals’ offensive line on Sunday. Aaron Donald was his normal self, and Arizona was paying the star a lot of attention in pass protection. This creates opportunities for others to make an impact, and in this game the individual who stepped up was rookie DT Kobie Turner—who sacked Kyler Murray on two occasions. Turner now has four sacks on the year.
Jordan Fuller, DB
Murray attacked the Rams secondary deep early and often. The Cardinals had some success with this approach, albeit most of the production came late when LA had subbed in its backups. Jordan Fuller made life difficult for Murray on most of these early attempts, and the veteran safety finished with an impressive four pass breakups and three total tackles.
Team-high 4 passes defensed by Rams DB Jordan Fuller this afternoon. He's had a great game.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) November 26, 2023
Sean McVay, Head Coach
From the first drive you could tell McVay was in his play calling bag, and of course calling plays gets easier when you are producing at a high level in the run game.
Stafford found Tutu Atwell for 40+ yards on the third play of the game. A red zone screen pass to Williams set up the third touchdown of the afternoon. Outside of maybe LA’s rival head coach in San Francisco, there’s no better offensive play caller at layering aggressive passing concepts off a robust running game.
Rams are going to be one game out of a wild card spot in Week 13 with a home run of a rookie class: Puka, Avila, Byron Young and Kobie Turner— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) November 26, 2023
Matthew Stafford, QB
By finishing 25 of 33 (76%) for 229 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception this was Stafford’s best statistical output of the 2023 season so far. The opening drive was as good as it gets with the deep shot to Atwell and then the touchdown to Higbee. It almost seemed like Stafford was throwing intermediate and deep shots more accurately than he was the short passes, as he struggled at times with throws closer to the line of scrimmage. This is probably still implicated in part by the thumb injury he suffered against the Dallas Cowboys.
If Stafford plays like this on a consistent basis, the Rams will be a tough team to out down the stretch.
Tutu Atwell with an incredible play on 3rd and long on the Rams’ opening possession. Even better throw by Matthew Stafford pic.twitter.com/oDb8i2txQ8— Rams Brothers (@RamsBrothers) November 26, 2023
Getting new faces playing time
The Rams started subbing in backups with seven or so minutes left in the fourth quarter, and this gave us looks at players the team have been hesitant to throw into action: CB Tre Tomlinson and RB Zach Evans to name a couple. Carson Wentz also made his first game appearance in royal and sol. Rookie DT Desjuan Johnson recorded his first career sack on Murray.
While it’s good for these players to get live reps, we also saw signs of why Los Angeles was maybe not comfortable giving these younger individuals run. For example, Tomlinson surrendered a long pass to Marquise Brown, a red zone touchdown to Greg Dortch, and committed an illegal contact penalty that negated an interception by him. While the rookie impressed during the preseason, he may need more time to develop before he’s playing a regular role with the first-team defense.
greg dortch (5-7, 175) just Moss'd tre tomlinson (5-8, 178) in the shortest jump ball situation in maybe NFL history— Danny Kelly (@DannyBKelly) November 26, 2023
Tre Tomlinson gets the interception, but gets called for illegal contact. Rookie has potential, but easy to see why he hasn't been on the field yet.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakTST) November 27, 2023