Heck, that might be an understatement.
They lost in 2017, McVay’s first year, by a combined score of 65-16 in both games, the last two of the Bruce Arians era.
Going into this game, the Cardinals had never held a lead going into the second half on their divisional rivals. Crazy.
But that all changed with a dominant first half from Arizona on Sunday, and overall game.
In a word...wow.
The Cardinals opened looking poor against the run, giving up some 5.5 yards per carry to the Rams, but managed to hold them to a field goal on the first drive of the game. Then...it was Kyler Murray time.
Green looked rebirthed, and Arizona had issues at times, with the Rams driving up and down the field, suddenly a game breaking play came into being with yet ANOTHER amazing interception by Byron Murphy:
Kyler Murray kept the offense rolling, making some great plays on the move despite pressure from the Rams and Aaron Donald, and it started out as a back and forth affair with a Stafford touchdown to Van Jefferson (son of Cardinals receivers coach Shawn Jefferson) and Kyler returning the favor after a solid drive with a needle to Maxx Williams.
Yeah, Kyler looked every bit the MVP candidate that he’s been advertised to be
Arizona, on the other side of the ball, managed to find ways to slow the Rams’ passing attack despite a banged up secondary. While the defensive line wasn’t able to bring Stafford down, the pass rush DID make up for it in a big way in another manner...
Fumble!— 98.7 Arizona Sports (@AZSports) October 3, 2021
Markus Golden stripes Sony Michel and Budda Baker falls on it!
2Q (10:35) Cardinals 14, Rams 10 pic.twitter.com/umHQpZ4Jbk
Nice punch-out by Markus Golden. Cardinals' defense has already forced two turnovers.— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) October 3, 2021
Kyler & Co. punched it in and Arizona ended up having the ball up 24-13 with 3 minutes and 22 seconds left. And then a MASTERFUL 17 play drive running the ball that ran the ball all the way into the redzone, only to be forced into a field goal to end the half that might have been more if James Conner doesn’t fall down on first down.
To start the second half, Arizona drove down to land a field goal (no interception of Kyler this time) and the Rams lined up for one...only to see it miss.
Lack of aggression by Sean McVay in settling on 4th down for 3 field goals rather than going for it was a big narrative on the day.
On the other side, Kyler Murray ran the Cardinals down and hit a rumbling Maxx Williams on a well-called screen play from Kliff Kingsbury to get them into scoring range for James Conner to punch it in.
Suddenly, it was turning into a blowout...and the NFC West was on notice.
The Cardinals scored to take a lead, up 34-17 and then a magical Chase Edmonds 54 yard run all but sealed the Rams’ fate.
Chase Edmonds breaks free ⚡️— Sportskeeda Pro Football (@SKProFootball) October 3, 2021
Arizona dominated with a final score and their 3rd game of 35+ points against a great defense and...if 4 games is the sample size for most teams, consider Arizona sampled.
And with a 4-0 place in the NFC West.
So, what, in the WORLD are the takeaways from this game? Let’s go.
- The streak is over! Arizona is now 1-8 against Sean McVay’s Rams...and what a way to end that streak. Arizona has showed that they can overcome adversity and while the defensive line, run game and some penalties have been issues, that’s nitpicking at this point. Arizona shook off the “Rams Curse” as good as you possibly can. Dragon=slayed.
- The two early turnovers for the Rams were MONUMENTAL. The Cards stopped the Rams from getting into the endzone and punched it in themselves and they did to the Rams what the Rams normally did to them in forcing mistakes and making them pay.
- Easily the best victory of the Kliff Kingsbury era...he was on fire all day as far as the right calls when needed and it felt like Kyler Murray played well in and out of structure...with and without DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk making much of an impact
- Stafford was a bit off today. While he and Cooper Kupp have looked unstoppable, he missed some throws and seemed like he wasn’t quite there and credit the defensive line for getting to him just enough to rush a few throws.
- A.J. Green might be the NFL Comeback Player of the Year if not for Dak Prescott this season, he’s looked like he has re-emerged as a top wide receiver and has forced NFL defenses to find a way to stop him AND Hopkins and even Kirk/Moore...gnarly weapons.
- The defense stepped up, only allowing a SINGLE touchdown to the Rams, and the secondary, which was much maligned coming into this offseason, might be the strongest unit for Arizona.
- Byron Murphy=becoming a star with his 4th INT in the last 3 games. He’s eligible for a big-time extension after this season. He and Jalen Thompson have helped right the ship for what was a terrible secondary outside of Budda Baker from the 2019 season
- Chase Edmonds is making his last season count. He doesn’t look like an elite RB as far as numbers/size but as far as impact? He’s making it, with one of the most efficient runs I’ve seen from a running back on yards per touch. He looks like who I hoped Andre Ellington would become in the desert.
And finally, let’s spend the last portion reacting to one Kyler Murray:
Kyler has looked like he’s become what everyone hoped he might become: a unique weapon that couldn’t be stopped, only contained, at the NFL level.
He’s made teams pay when they’ve blitzed him. He’s improved his diagnosis and reading defenses. He’s finding and trusting mismatches with his weapons and hasn’t only keyed in on DeAndre Hopkins.
And he’s STILL capable of rushing for 17 yards on 3rd and 16 with athleticism that just makes you shake your head. Dude is a legit MVP front-runner and put on a show today in Arizona.
All in all, Cardinals slaughtered the Rams harder than Father Abraham did in the typical Sunday School story of him and his son, Isaac.
And at the last 4-0 team in the NFC, it’s possible that there’s not just a new frontrunner for the MVP and #1 team in the NFL. But more than that...it might indicate a new era of football for the Arizona Cardinals as an organization.
They have not just a star, but a superstar MVP in the conversation now. And that comes with recognition, Madden covers, attention and all the things that Arizona has never had in their history ove the long-run.
You can’t ask for more than that as an end result for today.