The Rams have booked a divisional round meeting with Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl-champion Buccaneers next Sunday; Cardinals safety Budda Baker was taken to hospital for further evaluation, but is "alert", after suffering a concussion during the loss
Tuesday 18 January 2022 07:56, UK
Odell Beckham Jr and Cooper Kupp both had touchdown catches as the Los Angeles Rams comfortably saw off the Arizona Cardinals 34-11 in their Monday night Wild Card meeting, setting up a divisional round clash with Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford - in securing a first career playoff win - also rushed for a touchdown and David Long Jr. returned a Kyler Murray interception for a touchdown as Los Angeles broke out into a 21-0 half-time lead.
That stretched to 28-0 after Kupp's second-half score, before Arizona finally got on the board with a James Conner two-yard touchdown run, but there was to be no stunning Cardinals comeback, with only field goals exchanged in the fourth quarter as the Rams cruised into the next round.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, appearing in his first career playoff game, had just 137 passing yards and two interceptions as Arizona - who were the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL this season - lost for a fifth time in their last six games.
|Cardinals 0-7 Rams
|Matthew Stafford four-yard TD pass to Odell Beckham Jr. (extra point)
|Cardinals 0-14 Rams
|Matthew Stafford one-yard TD run (extra point)
|Cardinals 0-21 Rams
|David Long Jr. three-yard interception return for a TD (extra point)
|Cardinals 0-28 Rams
|Matthew Stafford seven-yard TD pass to Cooper Kupp (extra point)
|Cardinals 8-28 Rams
|James Conner two-yard TD run (two-point conversion)
|Cardinals 8-31 Rams
|Matt Gay 37-yard field goal
|Cardinals 11-31 Rams
|Matt Prater 55-yard field goal
|Cardinals 11-34 Rams
|Matt Gay 46-yard field goal
Arizona had minus-one net yards of offense by the midway point of the second quarter, and finished the whole game with only 183 total as the LA defense dominated.
The Rams took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter when Beckham made an acrobatic grab in the back-left of the endzone to haul in Stafford's four-yard touchdown toss.
Stafford himself ran in the Rams' next score with 12 minutes left in the second quarter, while it only got worse for Arizona as David Long's pick-six TD was one of two interceptions thrown by Murray on consecutive drives.
Long's came with Murray backed up in his own endzone and looking to throw the ball away under extreme pressure, while Marquise Copeland came down with the second, off a tipped pass, at around midfield.
LA could not capitalise on the second turnover, but they did stretch their lead to 28 points as they scored on their opening series of the second half, with OBJ throwing a deep ball 40 yards down the right sideline to Cam Akers to help set up a Stafford to Kupp seven-yard touchdown.
Connor followed that up with a two-yard TD for Arizona, who added a successful two-point conversion but, truthfully, the game was already lost for the visitors.
Worse still for the Cardinals, was the injury suffered by safety Budda Baker late in the third quarter when he clashed helmets with Rams running back Akers and appeared to be knocked unconscious.
Baker was taken off the field on a stretcher and was evaluated for a concussion at a local hospital. According to medical staff, Baker was "alert, communicative and never lost feeling or movement".
As the No 4 seed from the NFC, the Rams next travel to the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No 2) on Sunday - live on Sky Sports NFL from 8pm.
Later on Sunday evening, the Kansas City Chiefs (2) host the Buffalo Bills (3) in the AFC, while on Saturday night, the divisional round kicks off with the Cincinnati Bengals (4) at the Tennessee Titans (1) - live on Sky Sports NFL from 9.30pm - followed by the San Francisco 49ers (6) at the Green Bay Packers (1).
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