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Cardinals’ O-line, run game take steps backward in shutout loss to Rams

Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson (23) runs with the ball chased by Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (22) during the second half of an NFL football game at Twickenham Stadium in London, Sunday Oct. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

A week after an apparent breakout performance by the offensive line and the run game, the Arizona Cardinals came face-to-face with reality.

Even with Adrian Peterson back for his second game as a Cardinal, Arizona ditched the ground attack early in a 33-0 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in London on Sunday.

Arizona rushed nine times to 23 pass attempts in the first half and averaged 1.7 yards per attempt. Bruce Arians would only call three more rushes in the entire second half as the Cardinals closed with 25 rush yards on 12 totes for a 2.1 average.

Peterson tallied 21 yards on 11 carries.

“Of course, running the ball will help us a lot … but it’s too early right now to be talking about me,” Peterson said, per the Associated Press.

Much of the lack of production was due to the offensive line play.

According to Pro Football Focus, four of the five starters — D.J. Humphries, Alex Boone, Earl Watford and Jared Veldheer — allowed at least two quarterback pressures.

Shipley was the lone lineman to post a clean slate in pass protection for Arizona, and his 69.8 run blocking grade, while not impressive, also bested the rest of the Cardinals offensive line.

Arizona, which entered averaging a league-low 3.2 yards per rush, struggled getting any production out of its backs. That was a problem with third-down specialist Andre Ellington out due to a quad issue. Trailing throughout and facing many 3rd-and-longs because of the offensive woes, Arizona missed Ellington and converted just 3-of-12 of third downs.

 This is not an area Peterson has ever shined, and today he showed why with two drops and a third target that was nearly intercepted because he allowed the linebacker to easily cut off his route. He was also responsible for the missed blitz pick-up that resulted in Carson Palmer’s first-half interception and injury, which effectively ended the game. On the ground, he had little room to run, earning more yards after contact (18) than official rushing yards (11) while forcing just one missed tackle.

“Got to look at the film,” Arians told Paul Calivisi of 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, regarding the lack of running game. “Might have been a little bit of everything. I didn’t stick with it early because we weren’t having success.”

Part of it was the deficit.

But Arizona only trailed 3-0 after the first quarter, 6-0 with 11 minutes to play in the first half and 13-0 with 5:25 left in the second quarter. The Rams would lead 23-0 at halftime after scoring 10 points in the final 41 seconds of the half.

The passing game attempted to mount a comeback, but starting quarterback Carson Palmer went 10-of-18 for 122 yards and an interception before leaving the game with a broken arm after taking a hit on an intercepted pass. Backup Drew Stanton went 5-of-14 for 62 yards and an interception.

Combined, the Cardinals signal-callers were sacked three times and hit five times.

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