Rams anticipate tougher test in rematch against Arizona Cardinals – Orange County Register

PHOENIX — Should the Arizona Cardinals bring some brass knuckles? A baseball bat?

“You go on the street and beat somebody up pretty bad, (and) you go fight them again, you probably think you’re going to win,” Todd Gurley said. “We just know, being in the league, how the league works.”

Six weeks removed from the Twickenham Trounce, the Rams’ 33-0 overseas victory over the Cardinals, the teams meet again Sunday in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals have shown moderate improvement since then and, for the first time, Sean McVay will face an opponent for a second time as Rams coach.

It’s a game that, objectively, the Rams should win. Not by as much as last time, but this should be an interesting case study in terms of the growth of the Rams and their 31-year-old coach.

McVay, almost certainly, won’t let overconfidence creep into the Rams’ psyche. If anything, McVay goes the other way, and talks up opponents as though they’re the reincarnation of the 1985 Chicago Bears.

This week, players parroted a message that clearly came from McVay, that the first Rams-Cardinals game was closer than it looked. Indeed, the the Rams led only 13-0 until late in the second quarter, but then scored 10 points in the final minute of the half and dominated Arizona in the second half.

The Rams held the ball for 39 minutes, recorded their only shutout of the season, knocked Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer out of the game and held the Cardinals to 196 yards and 10 first downs.

“I think the score of that game is not indicative of the way the game was going up until the end of the first half,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “It was a close game and we know them, they know us so, it’ll be a tough division game no matter what. I know they’ll be ready to play.”

The Cardinals seemed to be floundering, with consecutive losses to Seattle and Houston, until last Sunday, when they hosted playoff-bound Jacksonville, jumped out to a 16-3 lead and won 27-24 when kicker Phil Dawson made a 57-yard field goal on the game’s final play.

Arizona’s run defense has improved and the offense has stabilized a bit after early-season injuries to Palmer and star running back David Johnson. Since their debacle against the Rams, the Cardinals have won two of four games and have been outscored by a narrow margin (87-84).

Third-string quarterback Blaine Gabbert has been adequate, and sometimes quite good, and running back Adrian Peterson and receiver Larry Fitzgerald remain…

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