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The Setup
Cardinals Away Game - Rams were coming knocked out of playoff consideration. Cards won their past 2 games (vs. Cleveland and Seattle). Which team (if either) will show up ready to play?

Cards Fall Short/Lose 31 - 24 to Rams

The Bottom Line:
Cards were unable to close out the season with a "W", but at least didn't embarrass themselves like they did in the earlier constest in Glendale. From the viewpoint of a distant spectator. the game was pretty see-saw; with just 2 or 3 factors separating the two teams: (1) Turnovers, (2) Third Down Conversions and (3) Head to Head battles.

Game Recap
Cards won the toss and deferred. Rams drew first blood on a 47-yd Zuerlein field goal, but the Cards came right back and responded with a 23 yd TD pass from Murray to his TE (Arnold) to take the lead. LA came back with 2 TDs (a M Brown 3-yd run and a 6-yd Goff to Kupp pass) to open up a 17 - 7 lead. A Gonzalez 31 yd FG narrowed the Ram margin to 17 - 10 going in at halftime. Cards tied it up in the 3 Q with a 3-yd Murray to Byrd connection.

Two consecutive Ram TD's (on passes from Goff to Higbee and Woods) opened up a 14 point Ram lead. Cards narrowed the Ram lead to one possession (on a Drake 1-yd run) with 3:53 left on the clock, but were unable to get any closer. Game: Rams - 31 - 24.

Scoring Summary:

1st Quarter

FG - LAR - Zuerlein - 47 Yds- Rams 3 - Cards 0

TD - Cards - Arnold - 23 Yd Pass fr Muray - Cards 7 - Rams 3

1st Quarter Score: Cards 7 - Rams 3

2nd Quarter

  • TD - LAR - M Brown - 3 Yd run - Rams 10 - Cards 7

    TD - LAR - Kupp - 6 Yd pass fr Goff - Rams 17 - Cards 7

    FG - Cards - Gonzalez - 31 Yds - Rams 17 - Cards 10

    Halftme Score: Rams 17 - Cards 10

3rd Quarter

TD - Cards- Byrd - 3 Yd pass fr Murray - Rams 17 - Cards 17

    • Third Quarter Score: Rams 17 - Cards 17
4th Quarter

TD - LAR - Higbee - 4 Yd pass fr Goff - Rams 24 - Cards 17

TD - Woods - 1 Yd pass fr Goff - Rams 31 - Cards 17

TD - Cards - Drake - 11 Yd run - Rams 31 - Cards 24

Final Score: Rams 314 - Cards 24


Notable Game Stats.

  • First Downs Rams 25 Cards 22
  • Total Net Yards Rams 424 Cards 393
  • Passing: Murray 26 of 42 for 2 Int 2; TDs; 325 yds; QBR: 81.9
    ................Goff 29 of 43 for 3 TD's; 0 Ints; 319 Yds; QBR: 107.5

    Sacked: Cards 1 for 33 Yds - Rams 1 for 8 yds

    Rushing: Drake 12 for 60
    ................Gurley 20 for 68

    Tackles - Baker(13), Walker (13) Hicks (11)

    Receiving: Byrd 7 for 74; Kirk 7 for 60; Arnold 4 for 76; Fitz 4 for 45
    .................. Higbeee: 8 for 84; 7 for 99; 7 for 67

    Interceptions - Cards - 0 for 0... Rams - 2 for 23

    Sacks - Baker and Marsh (0.5 ea)/ Littleton - (1.0)

    Fumbles Lost - Cards 3...Rams 0

    Penalties - Cards 8 for 63 - Rams 10 for 91

    Time of Possession: Cards 23:02 - Rams 36:58

The "Bright Side"

  • We stayed with the Rams throughout thr contest and we had the chance to tie it up late in the 4Q.

The Dark Side

  • Takeaways = the difference between winning and losing.
  • Cards lost more one-onone battles than they won.
  • Cards couldn't stop Ram offense on third-downs
  • Weak play at safety = Ram receivers often wide open.
  • Murray was streaky (To beat the Rams, he needed to be on-point a higher percent of the time).

Last Word:
Cards are good enough to beat the Rams but only when a combination of factors go just right - which didn't happen in LA Sunday. The Cards lost 3 fumbles and 2 interceptions and their momentum was sapped by a rash of penalties, and yet they still played to within one TD of the winning Rams team.

Complete this sentence: Protect the ball better and take fewer dumb penalties and ______________.

Memo to head coaches whose teams went south of .500 - 'Tis the season to be jolly - not. Realistically (as Freddy Kitchens will tell you) - 'Tis the season to look for a new job.

Although stranger things happen with regularity in the NFL, it looks like GM and head coaching jobs are safe in the desert - if there is a hypothetical plan (i.e. a "template for winning") it seems as if Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury are moving up the so-called "learning curve" well-enough to keep their jobs. But, in the NFL "you never know, and if we were an assistant coach or position coach, we'd continue to be a bit nervous.

Question that figures to be answered during the first half of next season is: "Are the Cards on the right path, and how fast and how well is the existing regime travel along it? Hints seeping out of Cardinal Hq points to a few possible changes on the Cardinal assistant coaching staff.

Change is good. Embrace it.

(& then pray).

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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012