The Arizona Cardinals entered SoFi Stadium on Sunday, needing something to get their way.
Back-to-back game losers and accumulating little consistency, the Cardinals were looking at a do-or-die situation against the Los Angeles Rams.
A win at the very least keeps them in the conversation in NFC West and Wild Card footage. A loss puts Arizona in an almost insurmountable hole.
And with many starters ruled out, including Kyler Murray, it wasn’t even clear which Cardinals team would show up.
But after the dust settled in Los Angeles on Sunday, it was the Rams who plunged deeper into the NFC West basement, with the Cardinals claiming a 27-17 victory behind the arm of backup signalman Colt McCoy.
The victory moves Arizona to 4-6 on the season, passing Los Angeles (3-6) in the process.
Arizona Sports hosts, editors and reporters react to the Cardinals’ W:
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns and Gambo:
I can admit it. Wanted to see what Colt McCoy could do with that Kliff Kingsbury attack today against the Rams. Not that I wanted Kyler Murray injured, but if for some reason he couldn’t go, I had a real reason to watch this one closely.
Anyone who listens to the show regularly knows that I put the vast majority of the offensive issues on Kyler and his inability to recognize/read defenses and go through progressions. In the game movie I watched, he constantly sees no open receivers. So I put less on Kliff and more on Kyler. What I see with Kyler is a quarterback who, if his first reading is open, is dynamic. If it is not open, he is not and tries to break the pocket and/or run away. So with McCoy today, you saw an attack that went much better.
You saw a quarterback who could:
1. Read defenses
2. Get the ball out quickly
3. Take some photos in the field.
McCoy went 26 of 37 for 238 yards and a touchdown. He’s averaging 6.5 yards per attempt — last week against Seattle, Murray was at five yards per attempt. Colt didn’t do anything special, he just led the offense and did a good job. He had a solid game. I’m not saying there should be a quarterback controversy, but if the Cardinals want to hold Murray accountable, they at least know they have a backup capable of giving this offense a boost. With McCoy behind a makeshift offensive line decimated by injuries, he was only fired twice – neither by Aaron Donald.
McCoy targeted Deandre Hopkins 14 times and Hop had 10 catches for 98 yards. Rondale Moore had nine catches for 94 yards, including a nice 26-yard catch on a well-thrown ball by McCoy on a fourth-and-three from the Rams 41-yard line that set up a nine-yard TD run from James Conner who put Arizona ahead 24-10.
I liked that on the Cardinals’ first possession of the game, McCoy took a field shot on a deep throw to Moore that was an incomplete pass. He showed it early to the Rams, which probably opened up a few games for him later in the game.
Look, Kyler MUST be the Cardinals answer to quarterback BECAUSE of the huge investment in him. He’s not going anywhere. Now, whether that answer could be is another story – many people have doubts. And these doubts are 100% justified. And watching McCoy go to Los Angeles and beat the Rams — something Kyler has only done once in his career — underlines to me even more that Kyler is more the problem than anyone else.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley and Marotta:
Ahead of this fascinating Week 10 clash between the Cardinals and the Rams, it became clear that the winning team could still convince themselves that they were alive in the NFC West playoff picture.
It’s the shorthanded Cardinals who can take that step forward, as they beat a depleted Rams 27-17 at SoFi Stadium in LA
Before the game, we learned that Kyler Murray would not play and that it would be Colt McCoy in charge of the Cardinals attack. And much like the three games McCoy started in place of Murray last season, the Cardinals stuck to the script: get a double-digit lead and enjoy the flexibility to mix things up with running and passing.
McCoy again played error-free football and completed 26 of 37 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown. And he did it behind a makeshift offensive line that featured just one normal starter (right tackle Kelvin Beachum) on the field. Kudos to Josh Jones, Rashaad Coward, Billy Price and Cody Ford for protecting McCoy and doing just enough to allow the Cardinals to be pseudo-productive in the running game. I’ll be honest, considering the starting O line made me think Aaron Donald might set a new NFL single-game record for sacks. He didn’t have one and only hit McCoy once.
McCoy also did a great job distributing the ball and rebounding from a knee injury during the contest. He is now 3-1 as a starter for the Cardinals over the past two years.
On the defensive side of the ball, it starts with Budda Baker. The safety, who was ruled out (possibly for several weeks) with an ankle injury earlier in the week, started and had the interception that pretty much shut the door on the Rams. He is undoubtedly the emotional leader of this team and his presence was huge. The D forced two turnovers and the pass rush was terrific with JJ Watt, Myjai Sanders and Zach Allen all sacked. They also held Cooper Kupp to three catches for -1 yard until he left the game with a nasty-looking ankle injury in the second half.
And the Cardinals used a fourth kicker — Tristan Vizcaino — and he was perfect that day.
At 4-6 and with Seattle losing to Tampa Bay in Germany, the Cardinals are alive heading into a Monday Night Football game against San Francisco. What they do with that lifeline is entirely up to them.
And I’m just going to plant this seed for the week… McCoy very effectively guided the Cardinals to a victory over the Niners last season. Does that, coupled with Sunday’s performance, give Kliff Kingsbury the freedom to rest Murray for another week? It will definitely be a topic of discussion.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns and Gambo:
We’ve had the is-it-Kliff-is-it-Kyler conversation for so long and in so many different ways, I actually relished the chance to see a shift in the equation. For weeks I had hoped for a different play caller; what we got instead was a different quarterback. But the desired effect was the same…change it. Try something else to see if the offense might thrive.
Thrive is strong but sometimes it was functionally better. A handful of players have operated with an efficiency that has been lacking, or at best woefully inconsistent, throughout the season. On more than one occasion, I’ve seen Colt McCoy (or is that Jolt McCoy) staring at a screen and throwing down the field. And while many pieces looked alike, the way they were executed seemed less chaotic and more in control. Kingsbury noted at halftime that the Cards were able to avoid negative plays. The battered offensive line did a good job of protecting Colt, but how much was it them and how much did McCoy just get the ball out quicker? But that didn’t solve everything. The 298 yards gained was just 42 more yards than the Rams and still the third-lowest total of the season.
I wanted to see if a change would make a difference and it did. But was that enough to make a change of quarterback? Absolutely not. The focus should always be on making Kyler the best version of himself he can be. There is no more hesitation about that now. So, for at least another week, the Cards have given themselves something to play for. Had they lost to the Rams, this season would have been in complete darkness. Instead, there’s a dim light – whatever – but it’s there.
Tyler Drake, co-host of Cardinals corner and the editor of ArizonaSports.com:
They had to have it. No matter who started at QB — or along OL — the Cardinals needed to win this week for any hope of turning the tide this season.
For all the boxy ugliness this team showed offensively, evidenced by sloppiness and overall poor play, Colt McCoy came out behind a makeshift offensive line and delivered to the starting spot in place of K1.
He kept the offense methodically moving behind short passing and quick triggering, while the O line did its job of keeping the QB upright.
McCoy goes 3-1 as a starter for the Cardinals, each of his wins looking pretty much the same: efficient.
Kingsbury and McCoy seemed in sync from the jump and had none of those little hiccups that Murray had with his head coach and teammates almost every week.
Now, does that mean we have to start a QB controversy? Absolutely not.
McCoy has done a good job in place of Murray, but a Colt-led offense isn’t the cure for the unit’s problems. Murray has the ability to change a game in an instance with his arm or his legs. And he just got paid. There’s no way Michael Bidwill is okay with a $230 million backup.
But while I say that, if we don’t see more of Murray next week, why not give McCoy another chance? He has proven effective in attacking Kingsbury and at this point clean football is essential for this Arizona team.
Defensively, I can’t leave this space without talking about safety Budda Baker.
After Kingsbury was told Baker had no chance to play, safety not only adjusted on Sunday, he helped shut the door on any type of Rams comeback with a fourth-quarter INT.
If for some reason you weren’t a Budda believer, you better be now. He is the undisputed blood of this team – not just the defense – of the whole team. It goes as it goes.
Is it possible to put an active player in the Cardinals Ring of Honor? Because it’s already won in advance.
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