Rams rout Cardinals to set up NFC divisional playoff showdown vs. Tom Brady, Buccaneers

Tyler Dragon
USA TODAY Sports+

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Monday night was a night of many firsts. It was the first NFL playoff game at SoFi Stadium, the first time the NFL had a postseason game on Martin Luther King Day and the first ever postseason win for Matthew Stafford.

The Rams overwhelmed their NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals, 34-11, to advance to the divisional round where they will meet the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.

The Rams charged out the gate to a 21-0 lead behind a dominant performance in all three phases. The Rams started their stampede by going on a 10-play, 52-yard drive that was capped off by an Odell Beckham touchdown grab on a fade route. Los Angeles then scored on its very next possession after forcing a Cardinals three-and-out.

Arizona started the game with four straight three-and-outs. On the Cardinals’ fifth possession, quarterback Kyler Murray was intercepted by Rams cornerback David Long Jr. for a pick-six. It was an interception that opened up the first-half flood gates in front of a raucous crowd at SoFi Stadium.

With under eight minutes in the second quarter, the Rams had more touchdowns (3) than the Cardinals had total yards (-1).

Los Angeles maintained its 21-0 lead at halftime. The Rams tallied 180 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Arizona was only able to produce 40 yards, three first downs and was held out of the end zone versus a stingy Rams defense.

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Rams defensive back David Long (22) celebrates his pick-six against the Cardinals.

In the second half, the Cardinals put together a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to trim their deficit to 28-8 midway through the third quarter.

Cardinals four-time Pro Bowl safety and defensive leader Budda Baker was carted off the field late in the third quarter after tackling Rams running back Cam Akers. Baker was on the field for a few moments before he was carted off the field. The Cardinals ruled Baker out early in the fourth quarter with a concussion. Baker was eventually transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

Stafford went 13 of 17 for 202 yards and tossed two touchdowns in his first career playoff win. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp totaled five catches for 61 yards. On defense, Von Miller had six tackles and one sack.

Murray was 19-of-34 passing for 137 yards and had two interceptions in the loss.

Attendance: The Rams announced 70,625 tickets were administered.

Star watch: Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, actress Gabrielle Union, retired NBA star Dwyane Wade and hip-hop star Jay-Z were among the celebrities in attendance.