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Rams were on the upswing/Cards were on the downswing. In their first meeting in London, the Rams shut out the Cardinals in dominant fashion, 33 - 0. Rams were 8 & 3 and atop the NFC West and coming off a win vs the Saints. Cards were 5 & 6 and barely still in the playoff hunt. In their last outing, the Big Red edged Jacksonville on Dawson's 57-yd game winning field goal with 0:04 to play.l
Cards Unable to Overcome 16 Pt Ram Lead
The Bottom Line:
Answers to unasked (& asked) questions:
We didn't get as badly outplayed as we did in London - but we still were not good enough to win.
Winning teams do not turn over the ball on their initial drive or immediately after a takeaway by the defense. Winning teams do not botch XP's or allow FG's to be blocked.
Gabbert seemed pretty good, but yet not the whole package. (Seems solid throwing outside the hashmarks but interception-prone throwing up the middle). On that final drive vs. the Rams, you'd hope to see him go out there and make something happen, but both play-calling and execution seemed a bit without purpose. Question for Blaine continues to be: "How much of his issues have to do with rust that can be removed and how much is an ingrained part of his DNA?"
Card lack quality depth on OL and in secondary
Cards lose more than their share of matchup battles
Young Cardinal receivers were outplayed by opposing DB's/
Young Cardinal receivers are not as good as young receivers on other teams
Front 7 is hanging in there.
Cards won the toss and elected to kickoff. Mistakes put Cards in an early (16 - 0 first quarter) hole. They closed the gap to 16 -13 with 3:18 left in the 2Q, but thereafter were unable to string together enough successful plays to mount an effective 2H comeback
Rams received and returned the KO their own 21. They moved to the Card 38 in 5 plays before Zuerlein's 56 yd FG attempt was good. (Key Plays: Gurley up middle for +11...Pass to Kupp +25). Rams 3 - Cards 0.
TB on the KO. On the first play from scrimmage,Gabbert's throw for Nelson was intercepted by Joyner and returned to the Card 23. Seven play drive ended with a 1-yd TD pass from Goff to Everett. (Key Play: Goff to Kupp +10). XP no good. Rams 9 - Cards 0.
TB on KO. Cards held to 3 & out. Punt returned to Ram 37. They managed to move to the Card 30 in 3 plays, but Goff's pass for Gurley was intercepted by K-Mart and returned to the Card 40. Three plays later, Gabbert returned the favor when his pass - short left - was picked off nby Ogletree and returned 41-yds for a Pick 6. Rams 16 - Cards 0.
TB on KO. A 17-yd pass from Gabbert to Seals-Jones helped move the Cards to their own 44 as the quarter ended.
1st Quarter Score: Rams 16 - Cards 0.
- Cards punted from their own 47. TB on punt. Rams held to 3 & out. Punt fair caught at Card 33. Gabbert put together a 9-pt drive featuring the inside running of K Williams and capped by a one-yd TD run up the middle by Penny (with Boehm eligible as a lead-FB) (Key plays: K Williams up middle +10, +14, +9 and +7). Rams 16 - Cards 7.
- KO muffed. Ram ball on their own 14. Cards held them to 3 & out. Punt from Ram 23 returned to Card 30. Two plays after AGabbert hit Nelson for +26, Gabbert hit Fitz for a 15-yd TD. XP was blocked. Rams 16 - Cards 13.
- 3:25 till halftime. KO returned to the LA 20. They managed to get to the Card 2 in 7 plays until Zuerlein added 3 pts with 0:04 on the clock. . Rams 19 - Cards 13.
First Half Score: Rams 19 - Cards 13.
Cards received. TB on KO. The Cards managed to move to their own 43 before punting.Punt (less Ram penalty) downed at their own 2. Three and out, punting from their own 9. O-O-B at Card 21. 3 & out. Punt returned to Card 30. Goff capped a 6-play drive with a TD throw to Watkins. (Other Key Plays: Goff to Gurley +9...Goff to Carrier: +14). Rams 26 - Cards 13.
KO returned to Card 18. A 21-yd completion to Gresham was ruled a trap. Cards managed to move to the Ram 36 in 8 plays to end the quarter (Key Plays of Drive: Gabbert to Fitz: +12...Gabbert to Gresham for +13...Gabbert to Fitz: +20..Gabbert to Nelson: +16).
Third Quarter Score: Rams 26 - Cards 13.
Dawson's 54-yd FG attempt was good. .Rams 26 - Cards 16.
KO downed at Ram 25. Three & out...Punt returned to Card 45. A 27-yd completion to seals-Jones moved the Cards to the Ram 27 where - on 4th & 10 - Dawson's 45-yd FG attempted was blocked (Way to go Amos!). Rams took over on their own 42. A short pass to Gurley picked up 33 yds. Rams eventually reached the Card 6 )in 4:34). where Zuerlein was good from 24. Rams 29 - Cards 16.
KO rerturned to Card 20. An aborted snap and a sack pushed Cards back to their 7 yd line. Punt returned to Ram 46. They managed to reach the Card 23 in 6 plays. Zuerlein was good from 41. Rams 32 - Cards 16.
TB on KO. Gabbert was unable to engineer anything. 7plays/game over.
Final Score: Rams 32 - Cards 16.
Notable Game Stats.
Passing: Gabbert was 18 of 32 for 221 yards, 1 TD and 2 Ints. (Goff was 21 of 31 for 220 yds, 2TD's and 1 pick).
Rushing: K Williams gained 97 yds on 16 carries. (Gurley gained 74 yds on 19 carries on the ground).
Card rush defense gave up 3.8 yds per rushing play (Card rushers averaged 4.9)
Receiving: Fitz led the Cards with 10. Four other Cardinals had 2 catches each..
Turnovers: Minus-2. Gabbert gave away 2 picks/Rams 1. Cards gave away one fumble - Rams gave away zero.
Penalties: Cards were penalized 4 times.Rams 7
- Run/Pass Ratio: Cards: 24/32. (Rams 24/31)
Field Goals: Cards 1 for 2. Rams 4 for 4
Net Punting Yards: Lee averaged 34.8. (Hekker averaged (48.8)
Tackles: Bynes and Baker led with 8 tackles ea followed by Dansby (6) and T Williams (5)
Sacks: Card QB's were sacked Four times. C Jones had the only Cardinal sack.
Interceptions: K-Mart had the only Cardinal interception
Third Down Efficiency: Cards were 7 of 15 for 46%. (Rams: 3 of 11 for 27%).
Red Zone Efficiency: Cards were 2 of 2 - 100%. (Rams: 2 of 4 - 50%).
Time of Possession: Cards 31:02/ LA 28:58
Ricky Seals-Jones continues to look stellar.
Bynes once again stepped in successfully for Bucc.
Budda B continued to be productive (though he may have injured a hand and allowed a receiver (watkins?) to escape his tackle for a TD
Kerwyn Williams was less than 8 yds shy of 100.
Cards didn't fold after being down 16 - 0.
Gabbert - Although accurate on short sideline throws, lack accuracy on deep throwa nd didn't account for double or tight coverage on throws inside the hashmarks and.
Ran Out of Gas - When Gabbert and the Cards needed "a little extra" late in the game, they were unable to produce much "oomph."..
Kicking - Love Dawson, but add the missed XP and blocked FG to his body of work and something's got to give - strong suspicion that problem has less to do with Phil than his supporting cast.
O Line - Sure they're banged up and haven't played together much as a unit, but other teams have met the challenge better than we have.
Mano a Mano Battles - Just a perception, but - when our guy fights the other guy for a jump ball, our guys seem to lose a majority of those battles. Similarly, when a play is up for review, we seem to lose more of those challenges than do the other team.
Play Calling - Easiest thing in the world to criticize when we lose. Still - Why did we stop handing the rock to K Williams after his big 2Q? When other teams adjust to what we've been doing, why don't we seem to "adjust back?"
Zone Coverage - Too often "play soft" and fail to acoount for an open man. This plus unacceptable special teams play and unreliable pass-catching are the three main reasons for any failure to make the playoffs.
This loss is probably the final nail to be driven into Cardinal playoff chances. So what's there left to root for - Rookies? Stats? Our role as Spoiler?
I see things from a slightly different angle. When you strip away the W's and W's, the Cards are a unique football animal - This is an "old team" with more than its share of colorful personalities, veteran leaders and guys polishing up their legacies (and heaping more fuel on the record books). It would be nice to see these guys win the balance of their games - not so much because they'll mean anything but because these are our guys, and we'd like to see them win.
Adrian Peterson = Adrian Peterson. Fitz = Fitz. Chandler Jones = Chandler Jones. PP21 = PP21. 'Los = "Los.
Then of course, there are the up & comers like Nkemdiche. Reddick. And Budda.
If you like to watch Cardinal Football, there are plenty of reasons to still do so.