The Arizona Cardinals didn’t have to do much through the air offensively after an impressive first half against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
Up 24-13 and momentum squarely on their side, the Cardinals still needed to keep their foot on the gas, however, while also chipping away at the clock against one of the best teams in the NFL.
Arizona’s rushing attack more than answered the call in the 37-20 victory.
Turning its best day of the year on Sunday, the Cardinals’ ground game put up 216 yards and two touchdowns in the decisive win, with Chase Edmonds and James Conner leading the way. Arizona successfully rushed for more than 100 yards in each half.
Edmonds turned 12 carries into 120 yards, while also adding four catches for 19 yards. Conner put up his second two-touchdown game as a Cardinal in as many games. He’s now tied for second among NFL rushers with four scores on the year.
“He runs really tough. He and Chase really complement each other well and you can see that,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Monday. “Both of them can be great in the pass game.
“Chase is a little bit more of a scat-type guy who can run downhill. James … has a real nose for the end zone when you get him down there and takes pride in finishing drives.”
Arizona flexed its ground game muscles with an impressive 12-play drive that was all runs in the fourth quarter to squeeze any life the Rams may have had left. The Cardinals burned more than eight minutes of the clock and added three points to the board.
“I think one thing that we focused on really this whole week was that we knew that at some point in this game, we might have to run the ball effectively and finish the game,” Edmonds told reporters Sunday.
“One thing me and James and the O-line talked about was we gotta get rid of this Air-Raid kinda terminology and really just find a way to win the game in the fourth quarter. … That’s really playoff football. That’s December football and it’s something I think we need to continue to work on as an offense.”
Entering play Monday, the Cardinals’ rushing attack is sixth in the league in yards per game (136.5) and second in touchdowns scored (7) behind only the Cleveland Browns (9).
Cardinals keeping that same ‘1-0 mentality’ despite growing hype
With Sunday’s win over the Rams, the Cardinals stand alone atop the NFC standings at 4-0.
Entering play Monday, Arizona is the only team to reach four wins so far this season.
But while those across the NFL peg Week 4’s beatdown of the Rams as a statement game by the Cardinals, Arizona is remaining even keel. Especially with another divisional foe in the San Francisco 49ers coming to town in Week 5.
“It’s 1-0 mentality, that’s how I always said it,” safety Budda Baker told reporters Sunday. “That’s what I preach to our defense, to our team. 1-0 mentality each and every week and today we were 1-0.
“We’re just gonna keep taking it day by day, week by week and play Cardinals football each and every day, each and every week,” he added. “We just take it one day at a time, one game at a time and everything else will handle.”
Byron Murphy day-to-day with ribs issue
The Cardinals came away with a win, but also dealt with a few injuries, most notably to cornerback Byron Murphy.
Shortly after making his third interception of the season, tied for the second-most in the NFL, Murphy missed a couple snaps with a ribs injury.
He eventually returned to action, playing a total of 48 defensive snaps (71%) in the win.
“He’ll be day-to-day,” Kingsbury said Monday “We’ll see how it progresses tomorrow and If he can go on Wednesday, he’ll go. If not, we’ll take another day.”