Marcio Jose Sanchez LA Rams congratulate Matthew Stafford after he scores a touchdown.
Stafford throws for two touchdowns as LA Rams book date with Brady's Bucs after 23-point win
The Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals heavily to reach the NFC Divisional playoff round.

MATTHEW STAFFORD THREW for two touchdowns and ran for one to post his first playoff victory in four tries as the Los Angeles Rams clobbered the Arizona Cardinals 34-11 in NFL’s final wildcard playoff game on Monday.

Stafford completed 13 of 17 passes for 202 yards and scored a touchdown on a one-yard run in the second quarter, with the Rams using a solid defense to win their sixth game in the last seven.

“This feels great. What a team win,” he said, adding: “We jumped out to a nice lead early. When our defense plays like that I knew it was going to be a long day for Arizona. I am happy to get one and am looking for more.”

Los Angeles advances to the NFC Divisional playoff round on Sunday to face Tom Brady’s second seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with the winner moving on to the NFC Championship game.

The Rams got off to a quick start Monday against the Cardinals as Stafford connected on a four-yard touchdown pass with receiver Odell Beckham — who finished with four catches for 54 yards — in the back of the end zone to open the scoring with 3:50 left in the first quarter.

He then scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak with just under 12 minutes left in the second quarter to make it 14-0 at the Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium.

Just four minutes later, the Rams went up 21-0 when David Long intercepted a desperation pass out of the end zone from Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray — who finished with 137 yards passing and had two interceptions — and returned it three yards for a touchdown.

But the rout was truly on after Stafford threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cooper Kupp, and Matt Gray made the extra point to make it 28-0 early in the third quarter.

Kupp has led the NFL this season in receptions (145), TDs (16) and receiving yards (1,947).

In a dramatic twist to the final minutes of the third, Cardinals all-star Budda Baker was taken off the field in a stretcher after a collision with Rams running back Cam Akers.

Baker was conscious and still able to move his limbs when he was taken to hospital, with Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury stating: “He’s being checked out. Positive news I have got so far.”

The Cardinals were making their first appearance in the postseason since the 2015-16 season. They ended the regular season on a sour note losing four of their last five games which cost them the NFC West title.

“They played a great game [and] we didn’t do too much right. On offense we were out of sync,” said disappointed Kingsbury. “We didn’t play to our potential.”

The Rams bounced back from a 27-24 overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers in their final game of the regular season.

Los Angeles had a hot start to the season, winning seven of their first eight games with their only loss coming to NFC West rival Arizona.

Then came a midseason slump when they took consecutive defeats to a trio of playoff teams: Tennessee, San Francisco and Green Bay.

After their midseason swoon, the Rams pulled together a five-game winning streak that included a revenge victory at Arizona before they closed out the regular season with a loss to the 49ers.

– © AFP 2022

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