AP Sports Writer
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Jared Goff bounced back from a rough November with one of his best games of the season, throwing for 424 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ dominant 34-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
The fourth-year Los Angeles quarterback deserves credit for finding open receivers early and often.
So does Arizona’s pass defense, which allowed another team to do anything it wanted through the air.
The Rams (7-5) followed an embarrassing 45-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night by embarrassing the Cardinals six days later to stay in the hunt for a playoff berth.
“It always will be and always has been about how you respond,” Goff said. “Our team responds well. It’s part of our mentality, part of our attitude, is that bad stuff happens, nobody’s perfect, but how do you respond?
“Today, we proved we were a strong team.”
Goff methodically picked apart the Cardinals defense, which was the NFL’s worst against the pass coming into the game. He had thrown no touchdowns passes and five interceptions over his previous three games but responded with 323 yards passing in the first half as the Rams built a 20-0 lead.
In the third quarter, Goff even showed his blocking ability, moving Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson aside to make room for Robert Woods, who cut across the field and ran for a 48-yard gain.
“He was great today,” Los Angeles coach Sean McVay said. “He distributed the ball and guys made some plays. It was a great game for Jared, but that was the game we expect from him. Those are the things we know he’s capable of. It’s always a collaboration of the unit, but I was really pleased with his ability to command and control the game.”
Woods finished with a game-high 13 catches and 172 yards receiving, Tyler Higbee caught seven balls for a career-high 107 yards and a touchdown and Cooper Kupp had six catches for 65 yards and another score. Goff completed 32 of 43 passes, and Todd Gurley II ran for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Los Angeles finished with 549 total yards, while Arizona had just 198 — and a big chunk of those came in the fourth quarter when the game was long decided.
“We just had a gameplan, everybody was flying around swarming to the ball,” Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “Everyone was making plays and consistent.”
The Cardinals (3-8-1) had an extra week to rest and prepare for the Rams after coming off their bye week but looked rusty instead of refreshed. They’ve lost five straight games.
This was easily the ugliest of the bunch, with the Cardinals looking overmatched in every aspect of the game.
“You can look at every phase, we didn’t do what we had to do,” Cardinals offensive lineman Justin Pugh said. “We have to take that one on the chin and be very critical on the film.”
Rookie Kyler Murray had arguably the worst game of his professional career, completing 19 of 34 passes for 163 yards. He threw a pick-6 midway through the third quarter when Taylor Rapp grabbed an easy interception and ran 31 yards for a 34-0 lead.
Murray showed up on the injury report late in the week with a hamstring issue and didn’t appear to have his usual mobility. He ran for a 15-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter but was sacked three times in the first half after he was unable to avoid pressure he often sidesteps.
First-year Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said Sunday’s result “wasn’t acceptable.”
“The first game all year I didn’t think we competed like we are able to,” Kingsbury said. “I didn’t think we had the juice, coaches or players. Fans deserve better.”