In a playoff rout, Stafford leads Rams past Cardinals 34-11

INGLEWOOD (Calif.) -- Arizona led the Rams by 20 points with just 4 1/2 minutes remaining at the raucous SoFi Stadium. Matthew Stafford's 13 year quest to win his first playoff victory was almost over after Los Angeles' dominating performance on both ends of the ball.

In a playoff rout, Stafford leads Rams past Cardinals 34-11

The Cardinals defense was still in full swing as the quarterback ran on third-and-3 through the heart of their defense, a joyous, perilous scramble that ended with no first down.

Stafford didn't forget to have fun, even under enormous pressure postseason. Stafford was strong enough to handle it all, and the Rams are now riding him to Tampa Bay.

Stafford passed for 202 yards, two touchdowns, and ran for another score in his playoff win. The Rams won the wild-card round with a 34-11 win over Arizona Monday night.

Stafford stated, "What a team effort." "Our defense performed admirably tonight. We were able to score some points on offense and win the game thanks to special teams. We are happy to move on.

Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. made touchdown catch for the NFC West champion Rams (13-5), which will host the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers (Sunday, February 7) to secure a spot at the NFC championship game.

David Long scored on a 3-yard interception, while Kyler Murray was harassed by the Rams' defense. Los Angeles led 28-0 at the end of the game, before leading comfortably in the playoff game at SoFi. SoFi will host Super Bowl 56 next year.

Stafford performed admirably in his first playoff game for the Rams. He completed 13 of his 17 pass attempts without an interception, and even had three drops. On a goal-line steal, Stafford scored his first playoff rushing TD. He also directed LA's offense and won his first playoff victory in a career that began 12 years ago in Detroit. His Lions were 0-3 in the playoffs.

McVay stated that he thought McVay did a great job leading us. McVay said, "He's still a great player to me, as he was before this game." It's great that you don't have the need to discuss it anymore. We are so happy to have been able to do it with him. We wouldn't be where we are without him as our leader.

Stafford was the star of the Rams postseason, despite a disappointing finish to their regular season.

Beckham had four 54-yard catches, including his first playoff touchdown catch and Rams' first point. Beckham also threw a 40 yard pass in his first postseason win.

Von Miller, a linebacker, added six tackles to his postseason debut since he won the MVP award in Super Bowl fifty.

The Cardinals went 19-34 for 137 yards and two interceptions from Murray (11-7), following a 10-2 start with a slide of 1-5. Arizona lost the game on the road for the second time this season, after losing 10 games under Kliff Kingsbury.

Kingsbury stated that "we didn't do any right in the first two quarters." The Rams played well and controlled the atmosphere. We were just out-of-sync as an offense on a few things that could have altered the game. They made big plays and we never found our rhythm.

The Cardinals have only one playoff win since 2009, and James Conner ran for a touchdown. Murray was 7 for 17, for 28 yards, and threw two interceptions during an ugly first half. The Cardinals were trailing 21-0 with only 40 yards of offense when they finally got their first down.

Murray stated, "Losing can be one thing but losing is another."

Los Angeles was up three touchdowns after Troy Reeder, linebacker, put pressure on Murray and he forced Murray to throw the ball out of bounds to avoid a safety. Long scored the NFL's shortest pick-6 by making a spectacular interception. He took just one step to make it.

Stafford's 4-yard pass to Beckham capped the Rams' second offensive drive. In his eight previous games, the veteran wideout has tallied six TD catches since he joined Rams at midseason.

The Cardinals finally had a first down after Long's TD. However, Marquise Copeland, a Rams lineman, got his first interception of the season on a deflected ball.

Aaron Donald, All-Pro Rams defensive player, said that he felt like the Rams were dominant. "I feel like the quarterback was not comfortable at all."

QB OBJ

Kupp's TD catch was made after halftime by Beckham's sharp 40 yard pass down the sideline towards Cam Akers -- the sixth completion in Beckham’s eight-year-long career.

Akers stated, "He should've led me a bit." "Nah, I'm playing."

WEDDLE'S RESCUE

Eric Weddle, a 37-year-old veteran, was given significant playing time by the Rams in his first NFL game since the 2019 season's finale. Two-time All-Pro safety Eric Weddle retired last week after Los Angeles lost Taylor Rapp and Jordan Fuller to concussions.

INJURIES

After a helmet-tohelmet collision with Akers, Cardinals safety Budda Baker was taken off the field and placed on a stretcher. Baker was surrounded by players who knelt down to express concern. Baker was admitted to the hospital for further evaluation. However, he still had movement in his extremities.

Akers said that it was a football play. He had 95 yards. It wasn't something personal. Budda's team has my deepest respect."

In his first game since October, J.J. Watt recorded three tackles for Arizona. Three-time NFL Defensive Player Of The Year, Watt had to have shoulder surgery but was able to return quickly to assist the Cardinals.

Both Long (knee), and Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth(ankle) were both out of action in the second period.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: A postseason assessment of what went wrong in a promising season.

Rams: A matchup with the Buccaneers, Tom Brady and Murray. Brady has more playoff experience than Murray.

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