Cardinals can’t overcome anemic 1st half, turnovers in loss to Rams

Dec 6, 2020, 5:20 PM | Updated: 5:21 pm

Arizona Cardinals middle linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) tries to tackle Los Angeles Rams running back...

Arizona Cardinals middle linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) tries to tackle Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (23) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Tempo, quick hits and a risky 4th-and-12 conversion helped the Arizona Cardinals offense find life in the second half Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

Kyler Murray slung it to KeeSean Johnson at the sticks to complete the fourth-and-long with 6:58 to play in the third quarter, and Arizona kept going to complete a 75-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins, pulling the Cardinals within 17-14 after an anemic performance in the first half.

It was just the fourth second-half touchdown allowed by the Rams defense in 12 games thus far in 2020.

Arizona would score two more, but turnovers and a tired defense left head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s team vulnerable in a 38-28 loss on Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

After the Rams answered the Hopkins touchdown with a touchdown drive themselves to go ahead by 10, the Cardinals caught a lucky break.

With their drive stalled forcing a punt, the return by the Rams’ Nsimba Webster was fumbled on a hit by the Cardinals’ Charles Washington, and Trent Sherfied jumped on it at the 15-yard line.

Arizona would score on a 4-yard Kenyan Drake rush to pull within 24-21, but Los Angeles tacked on another touchdown on a drive that took 7:12 off the clock to go ahead 31-21.

A fumble and then a pick-six by Murray ended two consecutive offensive possessions for Arizona, which trailed by 38-21 after Murray’s interception that was returned 35 yards for a score by cornerback Troy Hill.

Murray finished 21-of-39 for 173 yards, three touchdowns an interception and a fumble lost. He rushed five times for 15 yards.

The Cardinals were outgained 223-82 yards in the first half but trailed just 14-7 as the defense held strong with a goal-line fourth-down stop and beyond.

But that dominance and time of possession weighed on Arizona’s defense, and that became apparent in the second half.

By the end of the game, Los Angeles outgained Arizona 463-232, ran 17 more plays and won the time of possession battle 38:28 minutes to 21:07.

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