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Arizona Cardinals rout Los Angeles Rams 44-6

By Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange
Arizona Cardinals rout Los Angeles Rams 44-6
Arizona Cardinals' quarterback Carson Palmer. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES -- Three touchdown passes by Carson Palmer and a smothering Arizona defense allowed the Cardinals to crush the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Palmer completed 20 of 38 passes for 255 yards and an interception as the Cardinals (7-8-1) rolled to a 44-6 victory over the Rams at the Memorial Coliseum.

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"I'm very happy with the way we played the last two weeks but unhappy that we did not win four or five games in the fourth quarter that we should have won," said Arizona coach Bruce Arians, also referring to last week's win over the NFC West champions Seattle Seahawks.

The Cardinals defense sacked Rams quarterback Jared Goff seven times. Linebacker Markus Golden led the way with 2.5 sacks.

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Arizona cornerback Justin Bethel ran back an interception 68 yards for a score of an attempt by backup quarterback Sean Mannion in the fourth quarter.

"We didn't have to blitz all day long," Arians said.

Goff was 13 of 20 for 120 yards for the Rams (4-12), who dropped their seventh in a row and 11th in the last 12 contests.

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Meanwhile, Palmer returned to the stadium where he made a name for himself at USC en route to a Heisman Trophy in 2002.

"I said earlier to you guys, I never dreamt I would get an opportunity to play in this facility again, and it was everything I could have asked for and more," Palmer said. "It was a beautiful day."

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had five receptions for 43 yards, allowing him to top 1,000 yards in receiving for the eighth time in his career and extending a franchise record. Fitzgerald, who finished with 1,023 yards, also passed Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown for the NFL lead in receptions with 107.

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"He didn't play today so it's got an asterisk by it anyway," Fitzgerald said.

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Arizona lost Pro Bowl running back David Johnson to what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the first half. Johnson was hurt when he attempted to cut back on a running play and had his left leg bent at an awkward angle as two Rams defenders tackled him.

After the game, Arizona coach Bruce Arians said he didn't believe the injury was serious. Johnson will undergo an MRI on Monday.

Johnson was helped to the sideline and carted to the locker room. He rushed for six yards on five carries and had 38 yards receiving on three catches before being hurt.

Johnson ran for 1,239 yards this season and also caught 80 passes for 879 yards. His 20 total touchdowns are a club record. Johnson also was attempting to become first NFL back to run for at least 100 yards in all regular season games.

Los Angeles generated only 122 yards in total offense compared with 344 for Arizona.

"It sucks to lose like this, definitely don't want to go out the way we did," Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree said. "We have to get some things fixed around here and get ready for the next season."

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Two Chandler Catanzaro field goals and a touchdown pass by Palmer to Jeremy Ross in the first half staked the Cardinals to a 13-0 lead.

The Rams got a pair of field goals by Greg Zuerlein to cut the deficit to 13-6, the latter coming with 48 seconds left in the half.

However, the Cardinals, aided by a personal foul penalty on cornerback Trumaine Johnson, received a 47-yard field goal by Catanzaro to end the half for a 10-point edge.

The Cardinals scored four touchdowns in the second half. Palmer hooked up with tight end Darren Fells for a touchdown and running back Kerwynn Williams added a 1-yard scoring run in the third quarter.

Fitzgerald made his scoring reception early in the fourth quarter.

"I got pulled out of the bullpen," said Fitzgerald, who believed he was done for the game. "They told me I needed to go back and flush. He called that (play) a flush, and I came in there. I thought it was going to be a run play. We had a plan for Carson to run a draw today and I was going to be a decoy. I was hoping Carson would get in there because the last time he had a rushing touchdown against the 49ers he tripped on the goal line."

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The win allowed the Cardinals to avenge a 17-13 loss to the Rams on Oct. 2 in Arizona.

"A lot has to change," Rams safety T.J. McDonald said.

NOTES: Rams WR Kenny Britt (shoulder) missed the game. CB Lemarcus Joyner (ankle), T Rob Havenstein (ankle) and QB Case Keenum (healthy scratch) also were inactive. ... DT Robert Nkemdiche (ankle) and T D.J. Humphries (concussion) were among the Cardinals unavailable. ... The Cardinals lead the all-time series 38-37-2. ... An announced crowd of 80,729 attended.

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