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Week 17 Game Recap: Arizona Cardinals 24, Los Angeles Rams 31


What you need to know

Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray lacked his usual mobility as a hamstring injury limited his play in the season finale. Murray had his highlight moments through the air, however, with deep passing prowess to stay in the game. Kenyan Drake finished the season as he started his Arizona tenure post-trade as the unquestioned lead back. Dan Arnold, a recent acquisition, flashed with seam-stretching ability as a highlight player from a typically barren tight end position this season.

Los Angeles Rams

While a disappointing season overall for the Rams, they finished on a high note with a clean game from their offense and a home win over Arizona. Jared Goff arguably played his best game of the season and spread the ball around to all levels of the field and all targets. Todd Gurley received strong volume as he has much of the season, but the optimization of the run game took a substantial step back in 2019. Tyler Higbee continued his late-season surge as he led the team in targets and found the end zone with his career-best stretch of production.

Arizona Cardinals

QB Kyler Murray, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 42 - 325 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 0 - 0
Murray was hampered by a hamstring injury entering the game and his mobility was a non-factor against the Rams. Murray logged two interceptions, one on a tipped pass, and could have had a third as he was late on a sideline route. Murray flashed with multiple perfect deep passes, which has been a calling card of his successful rookie season with two long throws to Damiere Byrd and two others down the seam to Dan Arnold. Murray had a fumbled snap, but it was hardly his fault as he moved up to the line of scrimmage to adjust the play or protection as the center prematurely fired the snap in Murray’s direction.

RB Kenyan Drake, 65 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 60 - 1, Rec: 3 - 23 - 0 (4 targets)
Drake finished the season how his Arizona stint started – as the unquestioned starter in the backfield despite David Johnson and Chase Edmonds both healthy. Drake lost a fumble on a toss play and the first half was generally tough sledding outside of his speed around the corner on one rushing attempt. Drake flashed multiple big runs in the second half, however, including nice cuts on a 20+ yard foray. Drake was stuffed on an earlier goal line attempt, but converted later in the game for his lone score. Drake is a free agent entering the offseason but Arizona has mentioned they would like to bring him back in 2020.

WR Christian Kirk, 67 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 7 - 60 - 0 (10 targets)
Kirk led the Cardinals in targets but Dan Arnold and Damiere Byrd stole the show for the Arizona passing game in the season finale. Kirk corralled a wow throw from Kyler Murray down the seam for his biggest gain, but was stuffed on his typical yards-after-the-catch opportunities with two screens, one in the red zone. Kirk’s year was a successful one but lacking the breakout potential considering his quality moments in 2018 as a rookie. Arizona may be in the market for a receiver even if Larry Fitzgerald is back with the team next season.

WR Damiere Byrd, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 74 - 1 (8 targets)
Byrd’s game came together against the Rams as a certified deep threat for the Cardinals. Byrd hauled in two deep passes from Kyler Murray, but was one called back by a pass interference penalty. Byrd added a contested goal line slant touchdown and a screen reception of his highlights. While not a core player for the Cardinals long term, Byrd has flashed in multiple games in 2019 on a team searching for a regular deep threat with rookie Andy Isabella not providing much Year 1 presence.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 45 - 0 (7 targets)
Fitzgerald had two highlight moments against the Rams to close the season with a one-handed screen reception and a high-point grab down the seam. However, Fitzgerald was held in check otherwise and logged a rare drop late in the game. Fitzgerald’s hot start to the season devolved into spotty play to close the year with his 2020 status firmly in doubt.

TE Dan Arnold, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 76 - 1 (6 targets)
Arnold was a late-season addition for the Cardinals and flashed in the season finale especially down the seam. Arnold came wide open for a touchdown and corralled a perfect deep ball from Kyler Murray on another occasion. Arnold rose quickly to the top of the Arizona tight end depth chart in impact for a team devoid of impact from the position most of the season.


Los Angeles Rams

QB Jared Goff, 82 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 45 - 319 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0
Goff was downright surgical at times during his clean game and home win over the Cardinals to close the season. Goff had three missteps with two near interceptions and overthrowing a wide-open Robert Woods, but otherwise was sharp on his way to more than 300 yards and three touchdowns. Goff’s highlights included extending a play, rolling out, and delivering a strike to Robert Woods on third-and-long and later executing a perfect throw over a defensive back down the sideline for a chunk gain to Cooper Kupp.

RB Todd Gurley, 56 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 68 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (2 targets)
The strong volume for Gurley continued in Week 17, but the yards were tough to accumulate, which has been the theme for the Rams’ ground game most of the season. Gurley’s slow start progressed in a strong second quarter as he showed nice power on an inside run for more than 10 yards an two other chunk gains in the second half. Gurley had no touchdown opportunities other than a successful red zone well short of the goal line. While the main worry with Gurley in 2019 was his healthy and potential merge into a committee back, Gurley was the clear starter all season with minimal advancement in role from Day 2 rookie Darrell Henderson.

RB Malcolm Brown, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 26 - 1, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets)
Brown had a larger role than usual as the Rams controlled a late-game lead and his performance was highlighted by a powerful goal line touchdown and a quality inside run for more than 10 yards late in the fourth quarter. Brown maintained the secondary role to Todd Gurley the entire season when healthy over rookie Darrell Henderson.

WR Robert Woods, 78 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 7 - 67 - 1 (12 targets)
Woods was peppered with 12 targets against the Cardinals and relied on big plays for a bulk of his impact. Woods had nearly half his yardage on a single sideline reception of 30+ yards as he was stuffed on most of his screen and short-range targets. Woods had a touchdown called back by penalty but found the end zone later on the same drive through contact in the red zone.

WR Cooper Kupp, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 99 - 1 (10 targets)
Kupp led the team in receiving against the Cardinals and was back to his prominent production from earlier in the season. Kupp’s yardage came easy as the slot-centric receiver separated regularly with a 25+ yard reception over the middle and a wide-open goal line touchdown among his successes. Kupp also corralled a Jared Goff’s best throw of the game, down the sideline with perfect arc over a probing defensive back.

WR Brandin Cooks, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 40 - 0 (5 targets)
Cooks was a distant fourth in targets for the Rams with a paltry five, despite the team throwing a hearty 45 passes against Arizona. Cooks did convert two third downs among his receptions and drew a defensive holding penalty in the end zone beyond the box score. Cooks health with concussions and his fading late-season role are question marks entering the offseason.

TE Tyler Higbee, 79 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 84 - 1 (12 targets)
Higbee delivered another strong game to cap his career-best production stretch. Higbee was featured with two screen receptions and hauled in an easy goal line slant for a touchdown. Higbee could have surpassed 100 yards in the game if not for a deep crossing route drop. Higbee’s surge muddies the Rams’ tight end depth chart heading into the offseason with Gerald Everett being the featured tight end for much of the season before Higbee’s late-season surge.