Takeaways from the Rams’ win over the Cardinals

The Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals 20-12 on Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Here’s what we learned from the Rams’ win:

The defense develops effective depth

With several key defensemen sidelined with injuries, the Rams prevented quarterback Kyler Murray from making explosive plays and limited the Cardinals to four field goals.

Rookie Derion Kendrick, Robert Rochell, Grant Haley and Terrell Burgess filled in, complementing star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and safety’s Nick Scott and Taylor Rapp.

Edge rusher Takkarist McKinley, who signed with the Rams last week, was playing for the first time since suffering an Achilles injury last December while playing for the Cleveland Browns.

Aaron Donald reaches 100 sacks

Aaron Donald joined the 100 Club by firing Murray on a 15-yard loss in the first quarter.

The NFL made sacks an official statistic in 1982. Donald and Andre Tippett are ranked 39th on the league’s all-time list.

According to Profootballreference.com’s tally, which has tabulated sacks since 1960, Donald is tied for 59th with Tippett and Alex Karras.

Cam Akers can still walk, but he’s not allowed to fumble

Coach Sean McVay said after the season opener that he wanted Cam Akers to play more urgently.

Against the Cardinals, Akers rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown in 12 carries. McVay put the ball in Akers’ hands six times during a shot on target in the third quarter.

Later in the game, with a chance to seal the win, Akers fumbled at the goal line. It was reminiscent of last season’s playoffs when Akers twice fumbled in a division round win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The errors were largely overlooked because of the Rams’ dramatic comeback in the closing minutes.

Matthew Stafford eliminates sales

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford throws against the Arizona Cardinals

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford failed to turn the ball over on Sunday after five of his passes were intercepted in the first two games of the season.

(Rick Scuteri/Associated Press)

After Matthew Stafford came on with a league-high five interceptions, he played clean.

He completed 18 of 25 passes for 249 yards.

Stafford’s best game came in the third quarter when he escaped a sack and completed a third side pass to Cooper Kupp to score a crucial goal.

Receivers Skowronek and Powell are weapons

Receiver Van Jefferson’s absence should create passing opportunities for Ben Skowronek and Tutu Atwell.

Skowronek caught four passes for a team-best 66 yards, including one for 32 yards. Atwell was targeted once but the long pass remained incomplete.

Brandon Powell, primarily a kick returner last season, caught three passes for 27 yards.

Rams shouldn’t have fired Kendall Blanton

Kendall Blanton was dropped in August, the Rams opted to keep Brycen Hopkins as Tyler Higbee’s replacement.

But after Hopkins was suspended last week for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, the Rams signed Blanton from the Kansas City Chiefs practice team.

Blanton was targeted once on Sunday, converting the catch into a 28-yard gain that helped set up a field goal.

Special teams are making great strides

Michael Hoecht, a reserve defenseman, blocked a punt in the first series, giving the Rams good field position for a scoring drive.

Powell averaged 14.3 yards for three punt returns and had a 31-yard kickoff return.

Kicker Matt Gay kicked two field goals. He’s made all four of his tries this season.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-09-26/rams-cardinals-takeaways-matthew-stafford-aaron-donald-sean-mcvay Takeaways from the Rams’ win over the Cardinals

Emma Bowman

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