Tale of two quarterbacks: Cards’ Bradford outplayed by Rams’ Goff

Sep 16, 2018, 2:36 PM | Updated: 7:33 pm
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford gets sacked by Los Angeles Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam...
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford gets sacked by Los Angeles Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Two quarterbacks picked first overall by the Rams played in the Week 2 Cardinals game.

The similarities stopped there.

Arizona’s Sam Bradford and Los Angeles’ Jared Goff had drastically different first halves.

One of them only completed five first half passes, including a screen pass on third-and-12 from his own five-yard line, and overthrew his star wide receiver on a short route up the middle.

The other went 15-for-18 for 175 yards in the first two quarters.

For the second week in a row, Bradford could not get the Cardinals offense clicking in the first half. Arizona went 2-for-6 on third-down conversions, but needed an average of more than eight yards to go on each.

“It’s a little de ja vu from last week,” head coach Steve Wilks said. “Got behind, found ourselves in a situation we were trailing.”

What did the team need to do better?

“I don’t even know where to start right now,” he said, listing a stagnant running game,  receivers who failed to get off the line of scrimmage and the inability to convert third downs.

Meanwhile, Goff connected multiple times with four different receivers and more than made up for Todd Gurley’s first quarter inefficiencies, when the star running back ran for -1 yards on six carries.

A running back like Gurley can only be contained for so long, though.

He broke through in the second quarter, running in an 11-yard touchdown and converting the two-point conversion.

Los Angeles elected to go for the two-point conversion because kicker Greg Zuerlein was out with a groin injury, according to Arizona Sports’ Station’s Paul Calvisi.

Despite Zuerlein’s injury, Arizona wasn’t prepared for the two-point conversion.

With 10 players on the field, defensive end Benson Mayowa ran on late and was flagged for a neutral zone infraction. Gurley only needed to dive a yard to get into the end zone.

Arizona couldn’t answer, and the Rams raced back down field to hit a field goal.

After another failed Cardinals drive, Andy Lee punted it 58 yards. Rams’ JoJo Natson, Jr. promptly returned it 60 yards before Lee could tackle him.

Gurley ran in a touchdown and converted another two point conversion as the clock expired, giving the Rams a 19-0 lead going into the third quarter.

The Cardinals have now been outscored 40-0 in the first half of the two games this season.

This week, though, Arizona couldn’t even get on the board in the second half. In fact, the team didn’t even cross midfield until the final drive of the game.

Bradford finished 17-for-27 with 90 yards and David Johnson only had 13 rushes for 48 yards.

Wilks didn’t pin the blame on Bradford, instead spreading it around.

“Across the board, I think we gotta connect a little bit more, completions,” Wilks said. “Was that completely Sam? Sometimes he, right here, was running for his life. So we gotta do a better job protecting him. Receivers got to create separation, they gotta come back to the ball.

“So it’s not just one guy.”

Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk were the only Arizona wide receivers with receptions. J.J. Nelson and Chad Williams were targeted four times total but couldn’t bring any in.

On the Rams’ side, Goff completed 19 total passes to the wide receiver trio of Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.

Goff finished 24-for-32 with 354 yards. Gurley only had 42 rushing yards on 19 carries, but he scored three touchdowns and the pair of two-point conversions.

“Everybody has to look at themselves and say, ‘What can I do to make this team better?’ Wilks said.

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