Stafford, Rams beat Cardinals in mid air in 30-23 win | Sports News


By DAVID BRANDT, AP Sports Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Matthew Stafford threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns, Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. each caught a touchdown pass, and the Los Angeles Rams held on for a 30-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals Monday night.

The Cardinals (10-3) will have to wait at least a week longer to clinch their first playoff spot since 2015. Kyler Murray threw two interceptions that led to Rams touchdowns.

The Rams (9-4), who won their second straight game and moved closer to a Cardinals game in NFC West, appear rejuvenated after a three-game losing streak in November.

Kupp had 13 catches for 123 yards, the eighth 100-yard game this season for the NFL point guard.

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The Cardinals had the opportunity to level the game in the dying seconds after recovering an in-play kick. But a waiting call wiped out Murray’s long run on the first play of the drive and Arizona couldn’t produce a last-second miracle.

Stafford – who had plenty of protection and time to pitch most of the night – hit Van Jefferson on a high pass for a 52-yard touchdown to push the Rams into the lead 20-13 early in the third quarter. The veteran quarterback dissected a Cardinals defense that had been among the best against the NFL’s pass this season.

A few games later, Murray was selected for the second time by Leonard Floyd, who knocked the ball back into the air, caught it and then scolded towards Arizona 19. Seven games later, Stafford hit a Kupp diving for a 4-yard touchdown and the Rams led 27-13.

James Conner bulldozed through the Rams defense for an 8-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to reduce the deficit to 27-20.

Murray finished with 383 passing yards as the Cardinals tried to catch up late.

Arizona’s Matt Prater scored his second 53-yard first-half field goal – moments after Murray rushed for 16 yards and went out of bounds with 1 second left – to tie Game 13 at the half time. The six-game, 35-second practice ended a two-way first half that saw both teams take the lead and then lose it.

Prater opened the scoring with his first kick from 53 yards. Arizona threatened to score again later in the first quarter, but Murray was knocked out by Ernest Jones in the second and goal of 4 after Aaron Donald deflected the pass.

Donald – a six-time All-Pro – had a big first quarter that also included a sack, a loss tackle and a rushed quarterback. He finished with three sacks, bringing his total to 10 this season.

The Rams converted the interception to a touchdown when Stafford found Beckham for 2 yards. Stafford completed his seven assists on the route.

It was Beckham’s third touchdown since joining the Rams last month. He hasn’t had a touchdown in six games with Cleveland this season. It was also the first time he scored touchdowns in three straight games since 2015.

Arizona’s Conner scored a yard late in the second quarter to tie the score at 10, bursting into the end zone on a second effort after bouncing off a pile. Connor has scored a touchdown in seven straight games, tying a franchise record set by John David Crow in 1960.

The Rams played without defensive back Jalen Ramsey and tight end Tyler Higbee, both of whom were put on the COVID-19 list earlier on Monday. It was the first game both players have missed this season.

Ramsey led the team on Monday with three interceptions. Higbee has 44 receptions for 395 yards and three touchdowns.

The Cardinals are 7-0 away but 3-3 at State Farm Stadium.

Andrew Whitworth of LA made NFL history as the first player to start a left tackle game at age 40.

Rams: LA hosted linebacker Justin Hollins, who had missed nine games with injury.

Cardinals: Arizona activated DL Rashard Lawrence (calf) and long snapper Aaron Brewer (broken arm) before the game. Left guard Justin Pugh was also active, although he didn’t start.

Rams: Hosts Seattle Sunday.

Cardinals: In Detroit on Sunday.

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