Los Angeles, CA

Kyren is back … and wow

The Orange County Tribune
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KYREN WILLIAMS returned on Sunday and led the Rams to a victory (Brevin Townsell/Rams).

By David Brandt /AP Sports Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Kyren Williams cut across the offensive formation on his route before snagging his second touchdown pass of the game, pointing toward the crowd and then taking a bow.

The Los Angeles Rams` playmaker is back. So is the team`s momentum for a potential late-season surge for a playoff spot.

Matthew Stafford threw for 229 yards and a season-high four touchdown passes, two each to Tyler Higbee and Williams, and the Rams rolled to a 37-14 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Williams had a huge game after missing four games because of an ankle injury, running for 143 yards and catching six passes for 61 yards, including touchdown receptions of 15 and 3 yards.

Los Angeles scored 30 unanswered points after falling behind 8-7 in the first quarter.

“I’m an artist and this is my canvas,” Williams said with a grin. “This is really what I love to do. During those four weeks, I wasn’t playing, but I was still in it. I was still at practice, still watching the film, still doing everything as if I was playing.

“I’m not surprised.”

The Rams (5-6) won their second straight game overall and continued their recent dominance in the NFC West rivalry, winning nine straight games in Arizona going back to 2014.

Los Angeles took a 21-8 lead at halftime. Arizona thought it had cut the margin to 10 points on Matt Prater`s 57-yard field goal just before the break, but it was negated by a holding call.

The Rams stretched their lead to 37-8 by midway through the fourth quarter.

L.A. moved the ball with ease during most of the first half and had 287 yards. The Rams scored a touchdown on the opening drive, covering 75 yards on nine plays, capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Higbee. Stafford kept the drive alive on third-and-8 when he threw a perfectly placed ball to Tutu Atwell, who caught it over his shoulder for a 42-yard gain.

“It takes everybody,” Stafford said. “And everybody had a nice day.”

The Cardinals (2-10) responded with a long touchdown drive that ended on the 12th play when quarterback Kyler Murray ran 2 yards to the end zone. Arizona jumped ahead 8-7 after backup quarterback Clayton Tune pushed the pile for a 2- point conversion.

It was one of the few highlights for Arizona, which has lost eight of its past nine. Murray completed 27 of 45 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown in his third game since returning from an ACL tear in his right knee.

Arizona is 1-2 in those games, beating the Falcons but losing to the Texans and Rams. This setback was one of the most embarrassing of the season – the Cardinals showed little fight after the first quarter.

“Not good enough obviously today,” first-year coach Jonathan Gannon said. “We didn’t match their level of effort and enthusiasm throughout the game. That falls solely on me. When you get beat like that, you’ve got to take a good, hard look at how we’re setting up the week, because it really wasn’t competitive in my mind.”

Marquise Brown led the Cardinals with six catches for 88 yards while tight end Trey McBride had seven for 60 yards. Murray said he wasn`t sure why the offense was so stagnant after the first touchdown drive.

“I wish I could tell you, gotta go back and watch it,” Murray said. “It wasn`t good football. Didn`t execute. They got the better of us pretty much. There`s nothing really to say other than we got beat.”

L.A. jumped back ahead 14-8 in the second when Stafford hit Higbee for another touchdown, this time on a 5-yard score. Stafford`s 15-yard pass to Williams made it 21-8 with 59 seconds left in the first half.

“I thought Kyren`s energy and production were outstanding,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “That`s the kind of player he has been for us. You get him back and he really picked up where he left off.”

It was Williams` second standout game this season against the Cardinals. He ran for 158 yards and a touchdown in a 26-9 win in Week 6, but hurt his ankle late in that game, which caused him to miss the next four games.

Williams was one of the team`s most productive players during the season`s early weeks, running for 456 yards over his first six games.

Veteran quarterback Carson Wentz made his Rams` debut late in the game after being signed two weeks ago.

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