Cards can’t rally from Kyler Murray’s injury vs. Rams, miss playoffs

Jan 3, 2021, 5:19 PM | Updated: 5:21 pm

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball during the first half against the Los A...

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball during the first half against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Rams looked like they had a full week of game-planning with a backup quarterback heading into a must-win regular season finale to cement their playoff berth.

The Cardinals, when they lost their starting quarterback on the first possession of the game Sunday, didn’t game-plan enough on the fly.

Kyler Murray returned from an apparent ankle injury after sitting most of the first three quarters, but the Cardinals had only a spit of life left.

Trailing 18-7, Murray drove the Cardinals 56 yards on 11 plays before a Mike Nugent field goal was blocked.

The banged up quarterback finished 8-of-11 for 87 yards.

Meanwhile, backup Rams quarterback John Wolford, making his first NFL start, went 22-of-38 for 231 yards and an interception. He added six rushes for 56 yards.

That was the story Sunday as the Rams defeated the Cardinals 18-7 at SoFi Stadium to keep Arizona from making its first playoff appearance since 2015.

Murray threw two passes before he was sacked and suffered an apparent ankle injury to end the first Cardinals possession of the day. Between Murray’s stints in the locker room, in the injury tent and standing on the sidelines, replacement Chris Streveler was forced into action for the first time in his NFL career.

Streveler went 11-of-16 for 105 yards and a touchdown, but he threw an 84-yard pick-six just before the halftime break that turned a 7-5 Arizona lead into a 12-7 Los Angeles advantage.

His counterpart, Wolford, also threw his first NFL pass on Sunday.

That went for an interception to Jordan Hicks and led to a two-play, 14-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard pitch to undrafted rookie running back Jonathan Ward. The play put the Cardinals ahead, 7-0, with 10:15 left in the first quarter.

From there, it was all Rams.

Arizona’s defense held strong in the red zone throughout the day despite allowing Wolford to calm down and find a rhythm.

It held the Rams to three field goals in the red zone and forced a fumble at the goal line.

But the Cardinals answered the fumble recovery and return to their own 1-yard line with a holding penalty in the red zone, gifting Los Angeles a safety that trimmed the Cardinals’ lead to 7-5 with 5:31 left in the first half.

Then came the Streveler pick-six.

Never came an offensive recovery for the Cardinals.

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