Running back Darrell Henderson broke free for a 38-yard touchdown run and the Los Angeles Rams offense broke out of a slump in a critical 38-28 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at State Farm Stadium.
The Rams improve to 8-4, and the win -- coupled with a Seattle Seahawks 17-12 loss to the New York Giants -- moves them into a tie for first place in the NFC West with the Seahawks. The Rams hold the head-to-head tie breaker after defeating the Seahawks 23-16 in Week 10.
The victory also creates some breathing room in a crowded division, as the Cardinals fall to 6-6.
The Rams, who held a 14-7 lead at halftime, improve to 33-0 under head coach Sean McVay when leading at halftime and they stretch their win streak against the Cardinals under McVay to seven straight games.
With a division title, potentially their third in the last four seasons, within reach, there’s no time for the Rams to rest.
On Thursday night, they will take on the New England Patriots -- who dismantled the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday -- at SoFi Stadium.
The Rams then continue at home against the New York Jets, before they close out the season with crucial division games against the Seahawks at Lumen Field and the Cardinals in L.A.
QB Breakdown: “Our quarterback has got to take better care of the football,” McVay said emphatically after an abysmal performance from quarterback Jared Goff in a Week 12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Consider it mission accomplish on Sunday, as Goff steadily improved -- and broke a four-game turnover streak -- against the Cardinals. After an uneven start -- Goff was 8-of-13 for 63 yards in the first quarter -- he finished the game 37-of-47 for 351 yards and a touchdown. Goff also had a 1-yard sneak for a touchdown to give the Rams a 24-14 lead with 14:52 to play.
Promising Trend: Defensive tackle Aaron Donald said before the game that Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray had a “Quick twitch,” but on Sunday, Donald seemed even twitchier. The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year continued to make his case for award No. 3 as he sacked Murray and also chased the second-year quarterback out of bounds. And the Rams’ defense dominated again, despite an early miscue when a busted coverage allowed Cardinals tight end Dan Arnold to break free for a wide-open 59-yard touchdown. The following four Cardinals series resulted in three-and-outs, as the Rams held them to 82 total yards in the first half and 232 total yards in the game. Cornerback Troy Hill sealed the win an interception that he returned 35 yards for a touchdown.
Eye-popping NextGen Stat: DeAndre Hopkins had zero catches in a half for the second time this season after the Cardinals wide receiver did not record a first-half reception. In the first half, cornerback Jalen Ramsey lined up across from Hopkins on 9 of his 13 routes and held him to two targets with zero catches.
Buy on a breakout performance: After a Week 9 bye, McVay said he trusted that running back Cam Akers would have “a really good” second half of the season. The rookie is on schedule. Akers kept his legs moving and rushed for a 9-yard touchdown to tie the game, 7-7. A second-round pick from Florida State, Akers has now scored a touchdown in three straight games and becomes the first Rams rookie to accomplish such feat since Todd Gurley did it in 2015. Akers rushed for 72 yards on 21 carries and caught one pass for 22 yards against the Cardinals.