INGLEWOOD, Calif. — In a year where the Arizona Cardinals struggled to find their identity, Monday’s Wild Card game gave the club a lot to think about as they enter the offseason in embarrassing fashion.
After a six-year postseason drought, Arizona’s return was anything but triumphant as the Los Angeles Rams trounced the Cardinals 34–11.
A packed SoFi Stadium crowd of more than 70,000 roared as both teams traded possessions in the early game.
The matchup was the first playoff game for the Cardinals since 2016. Meanwhile, Rams signal-caller Matt Stafford was searching for his first postseason win after three fruitless tries in Detroit.
Sony Michel and Cam Akers powered the Rams offense with strong rushing gains to set up an athletic touchdown grab by Odell Beckham Jr. despite pressure from Arizona’s Marco Wilson.
Kyler Murray tried to get the Cardinals offense rolling but was constantly harassed by a stout Los Angeles pass-rushing duo in Aaron Donald and Von Miller.
Arizona produced -3 yards of offense in the first quarter.
Beckham Jr., a midseason acquisition for the Rams, hauled in a 31-yarder that set up an easy QB sneak into the endzone, putting the Cards in a 14-point deficit.
That deficit quickly turned into humiliation after Murray made an ill-advised throw in hopes of avoiding a safety that was easily picked off and returned by David Long Jr. The 3-yard score was the shortest Pick-6 in playoff history.
After receiving the ball right back, Murray was picked off yet again by Marquise Copeland.
Arizona’s playoff inexperience showed. Of the team’s 53-man roster, 31 had never seen the postseason, including Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Clearly rattled at the half, the Cardinals remained silent as the team entered the locker room facing a 21-point hole and in desperate need of a miracle.
That miracle never came, however.
Rams head coach Sean McVay showed little respect for the Cardinals defense and dug into the trick playbook.
Beckham Jr. threw a 40-yard bomb to Akers that was quickly followed up by a touchdown connection from Stafford to Cooper Kupp.
At one point, Beckham Jr. had more passing yards than Murray.
Pro Bowl running back James Conner, who was questionable walking into the game due to injury, punched in a short run for a touchdown to finally get Arizona on the board. A 2-point conversion to Antoine Wesley was successful.
But Los Angeles fired back on the following drive, and kicker Matt Gay converted on a 37-yard field goal.
Matt Prater split the uprights on a 55-yard field goal as the Cardinals tried to chip away at the major deficit early in the fourth quarter.
But Los Angeles cruised to victory after running the clock out.
The Rams will face off against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Jan. 23.
Arizona's season is over.
Cardinals safety Budda Baker left the game on a stretcher after receiving a hard hit to his head by Cam Akers. He was diagnosed with a concussion and did not return.
He showed movement in all his limbs before being carted off.
The game in photos:
Cardinals vs Rams in photos
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