Cardinals jump on opportunity of Rams’ muffed punt

Oct 15, 2023, 2:26 PM | Updated: 9:15 pm

Ezekiel Turner, Arizona Cardinals...

Ezekiel Turner #47 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on October 15, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals’ defense and special teams unit got their team off to a strong start Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

That was at least the case before Los Angeles went to a run-heavy attack in the second half and finished its drives in a 26-9 win at SoFi Stadium.

With the game tied 3-3 early in the second quarter, the Cardinals punted. Gunner Joey Blunt popped the ball out after Los Angeles’ Austin Trammel made the catch initially, and Arizona’s Bobby Price jumped on the loose ball at the Los Angeles 17-yard line. It was a hustle play from Price, too, as he got the first lower contact on Trammel before Blunt punched the ball loose, then got off the ground to secure the still-loose football.

The Cardinals could only gain three more yards on offense before kicker Matt Prater put in a field goal to put his team ahead, 6-3, with 12:35 left in the second quarter.

Prater previously nailed a 55-yarder on the Cardinals’ first possession of the game to put Arizona up 3-0 before hitting the 32-yarder to score off the Rams’ turnover.

The defense for Arizona did its part alongside the special teams unit in the first half as it led 9-6.

Los Angeles had four first downs, the fewest in a first half during head coach Sean McVay’s tenure with the team (2017-present).

The Rams, who were 2-3 entering Sunday, had scored on their opening possession every game to this point. But after the Cardinals (1-4) opened the game with a field goal on their first possession, Los Angeles began with a five-play, 25-yard drive that stalled at midfield, leading to a punt.

By the end of the first half, Arizona had 11 first downs to Los Angeles’ four and a time of possession edge of 21 minutes to nine. The Cardinals had 42 plays to just 20 for the Rams.

But it couldn’t keep up in the second half as Los Angeles piled up 174 second-half rushing yards behind 158 total from second-year back Kyren Williams.

The first-down differential ended somewhat evenly (+3 for Arizona), as did the time of possession (+1:00 for Arizona).

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