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Second Half To Forget As Cardinals Fall To Rams

Struggles on both sides of ball doom team in 26-9 loss

Cardinals linebacker Kyzir White chases down Rams running back Kyren Williams in the second half of Sunday's game in Los Angeles.
Cardinals linebacker Kyzir White chases down Rams running back Kyren Williams in the second half of Sunday's game in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES – The maze that is the visiting team's locker room at SoFi Stadium was cramped postgame on Sunday, and it was quiet.

The mood isn't going to be good for a team just handed its fifth loss in six games, but moreso how it turned into Cardinals' 26-9 defeat to the Rams. The Cardinals dominated the first half, holding the ball for 20 minutes and 58 seconds of the 30 available minutes, and keeping the Rams at five rushing yards as a team.

They only led, 9-6, however, and the way these Cardinals are constructed, it's a red flag.

"Frankly, I'm tired of losing," wide receiver Hollywood Brown said, the eye black still smeared on his face. "We've gotta get this fixed."

Getting past the frustrations of the afternoon will be the first step.

"We need to pick up our feelings a little bit," Gannon said. "We've got to come back and compete."

The Cardinals should've have had a bigger lead at the half than just 9-6. The Rams (3-3) didn't have any rushing yards but they hadn't tried it much either, and that changed drastically.

Running back Kyrene Williams, who had just two carries (for 4 yards) in the first half ended up with 158 on 20 carries with a touchdown. The Rams ran the ball every play of their nine-play third-quarter-starting TD possession, save for the final play – a 13-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp.

Gannon said the defense should've adjusted quicker on the run-heavy drive, "and that's my job."

"It was pretty frustrating, I'm not going to lie," defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter said. "Since we started the season, that's been our downfall. We play tough in the first half and I don't think we have put together a complete game on defense or offense.

"If we put a whole game together, we have a damn good football team. I say that every week."

In itself, the sequence was not back breaking. But Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs hasn't quite found the magic he owned for the first month of the season, and it made a difference.

Dobbs struggled, completing just 21 of 41 passes for 235 yards, more importantly committing two fourth-quarter turnovers that sealed the result. The first was the killer, a pass to tight end Zach Ertz from the L.A. 12 that was behind the veteran. Ertz reached back to get it but could only tip the ball – and it went into the hands of linebacker Christian Rozeboom.

It was the third trip into the red zone for the Cardinals, and the previous two times, they only scored field goals.

"We have to finish in the red zone," Dobbs said. "That's what the game comes down to.

"It's tough. It stinks, especially when you control the game in the first half."

After the pick, the Cardinals were only down seven. But the way Williams was running, it was an opportunity the Cards couldn't afford to mess up.

Combining that with the two deep misses to wide receiver Hollywood Brown in the first half – Brown had multiple steps on his defender twice for potential TDs, only to have one ball hang up just long enough to be knocked away and the other sail out of bounds on Dobbs – and the Cardinals couldn't overcome.

Gannon said he had "no doubt" Dobbs will bounce back.

"He's a competitor, a warrior," Gannon said. "It's not just Josh. It's all of us."

The Cardinals had some success running the ball without the injured James Conner, although the 130 net rushing yards were bolstered by Dobbs' team best 47 and the running game was made moot early in the fourth quarter. Keaontay Ingram and Damien Williams combined for 76 yards on 18 carries rushing.

Kupp had seven catches for 148 yards and a touchdown for the Rams, 101 yards in the first half, but his day was overshadowed by Williams once he got loose.

The Cardinals head to Seattle next week for the second of NFC West road trips. They could have safeties Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson back, which would help. Kyler Murray is unlikely to be back quite yet, meaning Dobbs needs to get back to how he was playing and the Cardinals need to find a way to have 60 continuous minutes of effective play.

"When they punch us, we have to punch back a little bit," Gannon said.

"It starts with me," he added, "but we've got the guys in the locker room to do it. I know that."