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Cardinals Need Redemption Against Rams

Posted Dec 2, 2017

Shutout loss in London on the mind as Sunday's rematch awaits

Cardinals cornerback Tramon Williams tackles Rams wideout Cooper Kupp in the first meeting in London.

The Cardinals and Rams are NFC West combatants, which means they play each other twice a year.

On one hand, that’s a good thing. After a 33-0 shellacking in London in Week 7, the Cardinals get their chance at revenge on Sunday. On the other, it means they had to re-watch that disappointing display all week during game preparation.

“That was like one of them tapes you burn, and then you burn it again, and then you burn it again,” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “Unfortunately, we had to watch it. … That game, it was a nightmare. And it was a looong ride home, brother.”

The Cardinals were hit with a 1-2 punch across the pond, losing to the Rams and also losing quarterback Carson Palmer to a broken arm. After entering the game full of Adrian Peterson-fueled zeal, they left in disarray.

Backup quarterbacks Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert have done a nice job of steadying the ship, as the Cardinals have split their four subsequent games without Palmer. But the team is just 5-6 overall on the season and any loss the rest of the way could end their slim playoff hopes.

The Rams come in at 8-3 after an impressive win over the Saints, and the Cardinals must play a game diametrically opposed to the first one to have a shot at the upset.

“We didn’t show up, period,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “We didn’t show up to play. I wouldn’t say it was intensity, we just don’t know what team that was on film when we came back to watch it. That wasn’t us. Busted assignments. We were just all over the place. We couldn’t get out of first gear. … I think it’s definitely going to be a totally different team – us as a defense and as a team as a whole. We can’t wait to try to redeem ourselves.”

Gabbert faces a solid Los Angeles defense, but he acquitted himself well in last week’s win against the stingy Jaguars, throwing for 241 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He was complemented by a capable running game, although Peterson suffered a neck injury in the contest and is questionable for Sunday after not practicing all week.

That could put more pressure back on Gabbert, a guy who was the third-string quarterback and inactive in London. Now he’s a critical piece of the puzzle, and has played well enough to get starting consideration with the team in 2018.

“The way things have changed, that’s just par for the course in the NFL,” Gabbert said. “You never know what’s going to happen, and the unexpected happens all the time. Like I said last week, when these opportunities do arise, you just have to make the most of them.”

Arians has been talking about the volatility of the NFL for several weeks, and while the Rams have been one of the most consistent teams, they do have tough games against the Eagles, Seahawks and Titans coming up.

A win pulls the Cardinals within two games of Los Angeles in the NFC West. A loss eliminates them from the race.

While it wasn’t enjoyable to see all the mistakes from the first meeting, defensive lineman Frostee Rucker said reviewing the tape did help the Cardinals feel more prepared for first-year Rams coach Sean McVay.

“Our antennas are up,” Rucker said. “We understand the concepts of what they’re trying to do now, and we’ve had time to go over it. We’re really looking forward to Sunday.”

The Jaguars were a tough challenge last week, and the Cardinals were up to the task. In the second game of three in a row at home, an even stiffer test awaits.

“All around they are a dominant football team, but we’re playing at home and we’re playing better than we were (in London),” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “We’ve got to go out there and be efficient in our approach. And be ready to play, because it’s going to be a physical, 60-minute altercation.”

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