Rams Rout Cardinals, 34-11, Set To Face Bucs In NFC Divisional Round

All season long, it was the Cooper Kupp show for the Rams. But Monday was Odell Beckham Jr.'s turn to shine, as the rebirth of one of the most talented receivers in football transpired at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California Monday.

Beckham Jr. hauled in four receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown, en route to the Rams defeating the Cardinals, 34-11, in the NFC Wild Card. Just what general manager Les Snead was expecting when he signed the formerly disgruntled Browns receiver off the street in early November.

It took a little bit of time, but Beckham Jr. finally looks like the 1,000-yard receiver of old. He set the tone early, as Cardinals rookie corner Marco Wilson had no chance 1-on-1 with Beckham Jr. inside the five-yard line. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford's perfectly placed fade was reeled in by Beckham Jr., giving Los Angeles a lead they would not relinquish.

It was Beckham Jr.'s first career playoff touchdown in just his second playoff game. The 29-year-old made an impact through the air in the third quarter as well, hitting running back Cam Akers for a 40-yard gain after some trickery from head coach Sean McVay's offense. Akers operated as the lead back, rushing for 55 yards on 17 carries.

The play set up the Rams, up 21-0 at the time, in plus territory, ready to strike again. They did just that, as Kupp got in on the action. Kupp, who led the league during the regular season with 16 touchdowns, got his first of the postseason with 10:36 remaining in the third quarter. Kupp's score capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive. Kupp finished with five receptions for 61 yards and the score.

Stafford, who came into the playoffs having thrown 13 interceptions in his last nine games, resembled the quarterback that was in the MVP conversation during the first half of the season.

Making his third playoff start and first since 2016, Stafford threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-17 passing. The same cannot be said for Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.

Murray made his playoff debut and was rattled from the jump. Murray faced pressure early and often from Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Co., often scrambling in the pocket just to keep plays alive. He was sacked twice and knocked down five times.

Whether it was road or playoff jitters, perhaps both, Murray didn't look like the quarterback that lit up the league early on in the season, like Stafford did. Murray finished throwing for only 137 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions on 19-of-34 passing.

Murray's first turnover is one he'd like to forget. Down 14-0 and backed into his own end zone, Murray tried to avoid getting sacked for a safety by tossing one up into harm's way. Rams cornerback David Long converged and picked it off, taking it in for six. The three-yard pick-six is the shortest one in NFL postseason history.

Late in the third quarter with the result no longer in doubt, a scary collision between Akers and Cardinals All-Pro safety Budda Baker stopped the game momentarily. Both players met head-to-head, with Baker taking the brunt of the collision.

Baker was placed on a stretcher and taken off the field. He was diagnosed with a concussion, but thankfully had movement and feeling in all his extremities.

The Cardinals extended their playoff win drought to six seasons with the loss, while the Rams will move on to the NFC Divisional round for the second consecutive season.

The Rams will head across the country to Tampa, Florida, to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers Sunday at 3:00 p.m. on NBC. Los Angeles defeated Tampa Bay, 34-24, in Week 3 this season.

New FanDuel Sportsbook users can make their first bet risk-free up to $1,000. If the bet loses, the FanDuel Sportsbook will refund you in site credit. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link. 

Follow Nick Geddes on Twitter @NickGeddesNews and on Instagram @nick.geddes. 

Written by
Nick Geddes is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. A life-long sports enthusiast, Nick shares a passion for sports writing and is proud to represent OutKick.