When James Conner borrows LeBron James’ touchdown celebration moves, it’s a safe bet that things are going well for the Arizona Cardinals.
And Conner and the Cardinals had a great game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, October 3.
In a 37-20 road win over the Rams, Arizona rushed for 216 yards on 40 carries, both season highs, with 120 yards from Chase Edmonds, 50 yards and two touchdowns from James Conner, and another 39 yards from quarterback Kyle Murray. With the win, the Cardinals improved to 4-0 and handed the Rams (3-1) their first loss.
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! After the game, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters, “To rush for over 200 yards in an NFL game, that’s a big-time accomplishment.”
After scoring his first touchdown of the day, a 1-yard run midway through the second quarter, Conner modeled his end-zone celebration after James’.
Conner, the former Pittsburgh Steelers running back who signed a free-agent deal with Arizona in the offseason, added another 1-yard TD run late in the third quarter to extend the Cardinals
No ‘Air Raid’ for Arizona in the fourth quarter
The Cardinals relied on the running game to close out the victory with a 12-play, 94-yard drive capped by a chip-shot field goal by kicker Matt Prater to push Arizona’s lead to 37-13 with less than four minutes to play.
On the drive to set up the 23-yard field goal, the Cardinals ran the ball 11 times, shaving nearly 8 1/2 minutes off the clock.
Kingsbury said, “That was a big-time drive to finish the game.”
On third-and-7 from the 4, Arizona’s Edmonds broke free for a career-long 54-yard run to move the ball across midfield.
Murray and center Rodney Hudson both said after the game that they saw potential for a big play when they noticed the Rams’ defensive alignment. Hudson explained after the game, “It was third-and-7, not a traditional run down.” “They were in the midst of their third-down package..” It was an incredible play call, and Chase nailed it. We blocked it, but Chase hit it exactly where it needed to be. Murray added, “I knew it was going to hit.”
Edmonds and Conner both acknowledged that they would have to run the ball effectively in the fourth quarter to secure the victory over their NFC West rivals. After the game, Edmonds told reporters, “One thing me and James and the O-line just talked about is we’ve got to get rid of this ‘air raid’ kind of terminology and really just find a way to win in the fourth quarter.” “That’s what you have to do when you’re playing great opponents like the Rams.” Kingsbury’s background as a player and coach in Texas Tech’s “air-raid” attack has a lot to do with the label, and he’s incorporated elements of the shotgun-heavy, up-tempo style into the Cardinals’ offense.
However, the third-year NFL coach prefers to run the ball, citing statistics that show the Cardinals perform better when they run the ball at least 25 times per game. Arizona is 16-6 when they have 25 or more rushing attempts under Kingsbury, and 1-12-1 when they don’t.
“Anytime we rush 25 times or more, we feel good about our chances,” Kingsbury said after the game to Cardinals sideline reporter Paul Calvisi. The Cardinals’ win over the Rams was the sixth time in Kingsbury’s tenure that the team rushed for 200 yards or more in a game. Because Arizona was playing with a revamped offensive line due to injury, the feat was even more impressive in Los Angeles.
In place of Kelvin Beachum, who missed his second straight game with a rib injury, the Cardinals moved guard Josh Jones to right tackle, and Max Garcia made his first start in Jones’ usual right guard spot. Garcia noted on Twitter after the game that it was his first NFL start since tearing his ACL in 2018 while playing for the Denver Broncos.
The Rams had also been strong against the run in their previous three games, holding opponents to 92 yards per carry. Per game, you’ll gain 7 yards. The Rams allowed only 35 yards on the ground in their Week 3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Murray said,
, “Our offensive line blocked their a***s off today.”