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Cardinals seek revenge over Rams in 2019 season finale

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones, left, battles Los Angeles Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

For the second week in a row, the Arizona Cardinals are coming off of a victory following Sunday’s 27-13 victory over the Seahawks in Seattle.

Surprisingly, it was the Cardinals defense spearheaded by Pro Bowlers Chandler Jones and Budda Baker that led Arizona to its fifth win of the 2019 campaign.

Jones, Baker and co. were able to sack MVP candidate Russell Wilson five times — four of which were by Jones — and recover one of two forced fumbles.

“I think it was just the rush and coverage honestly,” Baker told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo on Monday.

“Our rush was really getting there and we were covering really well. The two-and-two together made it the type of game that we had [Sunday]. These past few weeks are probably where we really started to hone in on the little details and all the things that the coaches coach us and teach us.”

The defense only allowed 13 points on 91 rushing yards and 224 total yards to a Seattle team that ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards per game (138.3), seventh in total yards (376.2) and eighth in points (25.6). Arizona also held Seattle to 1-for-12 on third down and controlled the clock with nearly 35 minutes of possession.

And to think that feat was accomplished by a Cardinals team that allows the second-most total yards per contest (400) and the eighth-most yards on the ground (120.6).

“Guys all year have had great effort and great enthusiasm, practice hard,” Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta on Monday. “So to see it paying off in the end is exciting for us as coaches and defensively, boy they played well yesterday — flying around and didn’t give up much.

“It’s been a work in progress and you have to give that defensive staff a lot of credit to keep plugging away at it and keep trying to find different answers and come up with a great game plan. They executed at a high level and kept giving the offense the ball back. It was a tremendous team effort but it was really led by that defense.”

Jones’ four sacks and two forced fumbles on Sunday brings him to 19 and eight on the year, respectively, both of which rank No. 1 in the NFL. His 19 sacks also break his own franchise record for sacks in a season. Jones would become just the 12th member of the 20-plus sacks in a single season club as he chases Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5 set back in 2001.

“It’s fun to watch. He’s a guy that shows up every day with great juice, great energy,” Kingsbury said.

“He smiles, he’s into it, works his tail off. And then he plays his heart out each and every Sunday. Regardless of record, regardless of what’s going on in the game, he’s out there selling out for his teammates. It was awesome to watch. He was disruptive the entire day.”

The Cardinals will now turn their attention to the Los Angeles Rams for what will be the last game of the regular season for both teams, as the NFC West rivals won’t be participating in January football this season. Los Angeles routed Arizona 34-7 in their previous matchup in Week 13 at State Farm Stadium.

So what do the Cardinals have to play for in their final game before the offseason?

Revenge.

Revenge and the chance at a three-game winning streak for the second time this year that would bring Arizona to a 6-9-1 record (a 3.5-game improvement from 2018) and carry over a sense of optimism and hope that Cardinals fans have been starved of for quite some time now.

“The last time we played these guys it was really ugly and they got after us, so I know our guys will be highly motivated to end the season on a high note,” Kingsbury said.

“I think that really stuck with us getting dominated like that coaching-wise, playing-wise. We all want to play better and have a much better performance.”


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