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Kyler Murray Bottled Up Again By Rams

Cardinals quarterback unable to get rushing game going in 38-28 loss

QB Kyler Murray had another subpar rushing day against the Rams.
QB Kyler Murray had another subpar rushing day against the Rams.

Cardinals opponents don't just have a blueprint at this point.

Now they're laying the foundation and bringing in the lumber for framing.

The Rams found the same success as other defenses against Kyler Murray on Sunday, keeping the dynamic threat in the pocket and daring his arm and others' legs to beat them.

It resulted in another poor offensive effort for the Cardinals, as the 38-28 final didn't accurately illustrate the hiccups faced on offense.

Murray finished the game with only five carries for 15 yards. The passing attack didn't benefit, as he was 21-of-39 for 173 yards with three touchdowns, a fumble and a pick-six. The Cardinals' 232 total yards were a season-low.

"We've kind of hit a wall, as far as offensively," Murray said. "That first half of the season, it was kind of effortless. We were moving the ball, having fun, playing fast. When you face a little bit of adversity, how do you react? How do you adjust? Which we ended up doing, but it was just a little too late."

While Murray has said multiple times this season he doesn't believe he needs to run for the offense to be successful, the results are stark.

In the seven games he has carried the ball eight times or more this year, the Cardinals are 6-1 with an average total of 32.1 points per game. In the contests in which he has carried it fewer than eight times, the Cardinals are 0-5 while averaging 22.0 points per game.

Murray has rushed five times apiece in the past three games -- all losses -- and the offensive production has been substandard each time. The Rams sacked Murray twice on Sunday and forced several throwaways by hemming him into the pocket. His longest run was only seven yards.

"They had a good plan," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "We just didn't get in a rhythm, and that's a credit to those guys, the way they played. I thought they played physical and took some things away."

The Cardinals' offense was anemic in the first half. Tight end Dan Arnold scored a 59-yard touchdown on a blown coverage on the first drive, but that was followed up by four consecutive three-and-outs that amassed a total of one yard.

KeeSean Johnson was the only wide receiver in the first half with a catch – one for six yards – and when the Cardinals finally did get into field goal range before intermission, kicker Zane Gonzalez missed the 48-yard attempt.

"When you lose by 10 points, you look back and say, 'What could we have done?'" Murray said. "If we had a better first half, we probably would been in a better situation to win that game."

Kingsbury went back to his roots to open the second half, using four wide receivers and pushing the tempo without a huddle.

"We felt like, with the way things were going, we needed to create a spark somehow," Kingsbury said. "We probably could have gotten to it sooner, looking back."

The Cardinals cut the deficit to three points twice in the second half, but the Rams responded with touchdowns each time. Any chance of a late rally was stopped when Murray lost a fumble and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Troy Hill on back-to-back drives.

"I thought he continued to play hard and compete when things were going bad," Kingsbury said. "He came back in the second half and continued to give us a chance. Kept us in it. Obviously it got out of control there late."

Kenyan Drake finished with 10 carries for 49 yards, but 27 came on a long run after the outcome was already decided. Chase Edmonds had six carries for 28 yards, and while the team yards per carry of 4.4 was respectable, the rushing attack was again far from the dominant group it was earlier this season.

As it currently stands, the Cardinals' passing game is struggling to move the ball efficiently, and Murray's legs are no longer able to cover up those issues.

"We've just got to put all the pieces together as a unit and get it done," left tackle D.J. Humphries said. "I don't think it's really a science to it or anything like that. It's us locking in and getting our job done."

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