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Kyler Murray, Cardinals aim for better success at home vs. Rams

Sportsnaut
Dec 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) avoids the tackle of Chicago Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn (94) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) avoids the tackle of Chicago Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn (94) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

With Kyler Murray back and ready to spread his wings, the Arizona Cardinals could put a stamp on their NFC dominance during a showdown against the visiting Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.

The Cardinals (10-2) can essentially put the NFC West out of reach with a victory, which would be their second over the Rams (8-4) this season. Each team has four games remaining after Monday.

Murray returned last week from a three-game absence because of an ankle injury and guided the Cardinals to a 33-22 victory over the Chicago Bears. The third-year pro had a modest 123 yards passing on 11 completions, amid inclement weather, but threw for two scores while running for two more on 59 yards rushing.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins also returned from a three-game absence and had a touchdown reception as the Cardinals outclassed the Bears. The defense on the NFL’s best team added four interceptions while coming off the bye week.

“I think he’ll feel more and more comfortable down the stretch,” Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said of Murray. “You could tell he didn’t feel completely comfortable out there. It’s hard to come back after a month and see full-speed game reps.

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“When he uses his legs and he’s dialed in and throwing … he’s one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL and he understands that.”

While the Cardinals are 7-0 on the road, they are just 3-2 at home and haven’t defeated the Rams at Arizona since 2014.

The Rams went 0-3 in November to fall off the pace in the NFC West but opened December with a 37-7 home victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford was much improved after a shaky three games during the losing streak. While there are reports that Stafford is playing through multiple injuries, he has not admitted to being physically restricted.

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Stafford was 26 of 38 for 295 yards and three TDs against the Jaguars, while Sony Michel had his best day in a Rams uniform with 121 yards rushing and a TD.

All three of the Rams’ primary wide receivers — Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham Jr. — had a TD reception. Kupp, who is nursing a mild toe injury this week, caught eight passes for 129 yards.

“We were able to stay on schedule (and) we were able to keep people off balance,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said of the previously stagnant offense. “I thought it was good to be able to mix up a lot of different personnel groupings, really utilize all hands on deck.

“… Sony was great. That was exactly what we had talked about, and it was good to see it come to life.”

Rams leading rusher Darrell Henderson Jr. (quad) did not play Sunday and was limited in practice Thursday, while starting center Brian Allen (knee) did not practice.

In the first meeting between the teams, the Cardinals rolled to a 37-20 victory at Los Angeles in Week 4, on the way to a 7-0 start to the season. Murray had 268 yards passing with two TDs.

Chase Edmonds rushed for 120 yards in the victory, while James Conner punched home two short TDs. Edmonds missed the last three games with an ankle injury but was reinstated from injured reserve Thursday. Left guard Justin Pugh (calf) also might return Monday.

“We’re trying to put it all back together and see what it looks like when everybody is healthy and running around out there,” Kingsbury said. “I’m really excited to get them all back and see what we can be to close this deal out.”

–Field Level Media