By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
It seemed like the impossible when early Monday just a few hours before the Rams took on Arizona it was announced that All-world cornerback Jalen Ramsey and tight end Tyler Higbee would miss the Rams biggest game of the season landing on the reserve COVID-19 list.
The team had already left tackle Rob Havenstein, Darrell Henderson and defensive back Donte Deayon in L.A. on the same Covid-19 list.
With those key players missing someone had to step-up and it turned out to be everyone did. Placekicker Matt Gay nailed three field goals The defense did its thing as Aaron Donald had three sacks on Kyler Murray on the game’s first play and the final play.
Matthew Stafford had one of his better games completing 23 of 30 for 287 yards and three touchdowns. The big stat- no turnovers. This is the second straight week the veteran QB has not had one.
At one point he led the team to scores on five consecutive possessions and finished with a passer rating of 139.2.He’s 8-0 when he has a passer rating greater than 100.
He hit Van Jefferson, Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. all on touchdown passes. It was Beckham’s third straight game with a TD reception.
“Some of those throws,” said coach Sean McVay. “Like the one to Jefferson, he’s going to his left and still on the move, uncorks that thing sixty yards in perfect stride. Then the throw he makes to Cooper (Kupp) on the similar kind of roll where he is setting up and drops it right in over the top. Great route because Murphy (Cardinals DB Brian) is in really good position. Those are two of the best throws you’ll see and that’s pure talent. Built he also has a feel and understanding of where the ball should go.”
On the night Kupp the league’s leading receiver had a game high 13 receptions for 123 yards, OBJ had six for 77 yards and Jefferson finished with two for 58 yards.
He may have found his early season groove again. Before the Jacksonville game a week ago he had six interceptions. That included three returned for touch downs.
It was an all-out effort as they out played the Cards by 30-23 score in front of 65,000 at State Farm Stadium. Home is where the Cards (10-3, 4-1 division) have all their losses.
In the previous meeting in October at SoFi Cardinal QB Murray played turnover free while tossing two TD’s and running for a key first down to help seal a 37-20 win. This game he had 383 yards passing with two interceptions that led to Ram scores.
The fired-up Rams made the Cards turn the ball over on downs twice. Linebacker Leonard Floyd killed a Arizona Drive when Murray had what he thought was a clean look downfield for a first downfield.
Floyd had dropped back into coverage as the ball came his way the 6-6 linebacker leaped in the air like Spiderman and snagged the pass and returned it 11 yards to the CARDS19-yard-line.
“He basically threw it up to me,” said Floyd. “I had to get it.”
Seven plays later Kupp caught a 4yard TD pass from Stafford that pu the Rams up 27-13.
Next up The Rams host the Seahawks(5-8) Sunday at SoFi then go to Minnesota and Baltimore before finishing the season with the 49ers at home.
RAM NOTES: One day after the Rams big win the team had nine players including Odell Beckham Jr. and safety Jordan Fuller have been added to the reserve COVID list. They were joined by tight end Bryce Hopkins, defensive back JuJu Hughes, O-lineman Aleric Jackson, nose tackle Sebastian Joseph Day, practice squad defensive lineman Jonah Williams and practice squad defensive back Tyler Hall.
Good news was tight end Tyler Higbee was activated to the squad. This after being placed on the list leading up to the game Monday night.
Coach Sean McVay commented during a video conference on the incidents: “This is definitely the most unique challenging situation we’ve dealt with with COVID over the last two years.”