With how explosive the Los Angeles Rams have been playing this season, I needed to make sure I could see at least one game live. By being in the stadium, I can truly get a feel for this team and how they take adversity head on. Making the trip from my home in Las Vegas, Nevada, I arrived in Glendale 3 hours shy of game time. I always like to get a feel for the area around the stadium, and of course, how the fans tailgate and party before the game.
It’s always a very welcoming environment and atmosphere to see fans of any team celebrating before kickoff. The Rams went into this matchup having already shut the Cardinals out 33-0 in Twickenham Stadium in London, England. This would be Sean McVay’s first time entering University of Phoenix Stadium as head coach of the LA Rams, and quarterback Jared Goff’s first time as a starter in the building.
Game Summary – Offense
Goff didn’t have his best game, but he played with poise, as he has all year, and completed 21 of his 31 pass attempts for 220 yards. He threw two touchdowns, one to Sammy Watkins and one to rookie tight end Gerald Everett for the first score of the game. While Goff did throw one interception to linebacker Kareem Martin, he showed focus and maturity amongst the roaring Red Sea.
Running back Todd Gurley also was crucial in this game. He constantly moved the ball forward both on the ground and through the air. Gurley had 158 all-purpose yards, helping the offense move down the field with ease on scoring drives. Rams special teams had a very, very productive day. The league’s leading scorer, Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein hit all four of his field goal attempts to extend his total points scored to 143. Another interesting stat by Zuerlein: his 33 field goals made are the most ever by a kicker through 12 games in a season.
Game Summary – Defense
On the defensive side for LA, they looked very shaken up against the run in the first half. They allowed rookie running back Kerwynn Williams to make big runs, including a long run of 25 yards. Many LA fans started to quiet down as the Cardinals started gaining slight momentum. The run defense would buckle down as the game ran its course. The pass defense, though, didn’t miss much, besides an obligatory touchdown pass to Cardinals legend Larry Fitzgerald.
The Rams front seven terrorized Blaine Gabbert almost every time he dropped back in the pocket. Gabbert was intercepted twice, once by free safety Lamarcus Joyner on the Cardinals’ first offensive play of the game. He would also throw a pick-six to middle linebacker Alec Ogletree. Defensive Player of the Year candidate Aaron Donald had a monster day, to nobody’s surprise. Donald added two sacks and three tackles to his stat line, giving the Cardinals offensive line trouble all afternoon.
The Rams obtained a 32-16 win over the Cardinals to improve their record to 9-3, securing their first winning season since 2003. Jared Goff also 3,000 yards on the season during this game. He is the first Rams quarterback to do so since Sam Bradford in 2012. The stadium started clearing very early in the fourth quarter as Rams fans’ cheers arose and echoed throughout the building. Those fans felt like they earned that win along with the team. Many fans were making long treks away from their home just to watch their team win in enemy territory.
It was simply amazing to be a part of the crowd and root for this team while being in a very raucous crowd. It’s very apparent that this is a very special season for the Los Angeles Rams. Everything from the tailgate, the people outside of the stadium, to watching first hand, especially with the season the Rams are having, made the game a very special environment. Easy enough to say, it was a very easy drive back to Vegas after the well-earned win.
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– Andrew Irvin is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Rams. He covers the Los Angeles Ram. Like and follow on Follow @drewage_ Follow @FPC_Rams and Facebook.