Two minutes remained against the Arizona Cardinals when Rams coach Sean McVay walked down the sideline to meet with several players on the defense.
McVay spoke animatedly as cornerback Trumaine Johnson bounced up and down, defensive lineman Michael Brockers nodded, and linebacker Alec Ogletree lit up with a smile big enough to spot from the upper deck of Twickenham Stadium.
McVay eventually backpedaled from the group, clapping his hands in their direction.
The night was over for the starting defense, a 33-0 victory over an NFC West division opponent in hand, as the Rams improved to 5-2 for the first time since 2003 and posted a shutout for the first time since 2014.
“Wow,” Johnson said after the game. “Man. It’s a new wave. It’s a new era.”
A 10-day road trip that started with a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, followed by a four-day stay on the Florida coast before a flight across the Atlantic for a short stay in London, was capped Sunday by the defense’s most dominating performance this season.
“Goose egg,” defensive lineman Aaron Donald said. “Any time you let an offense get zero points, especially the offense they got with the great players they’ve got, it’s confidence and a lot to build off.”
The Rams intercepted two passes, shut down running back Adrian Peterson and forced quarterback Carson Palmer to the sideline with a broken arm after he took a hit from Alec Ogletree.
Rams running back Todd Gurley scores a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals at Twickenham Stadium in London on Sunday.(Matt Dunham / Associated Press)
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (18) runs into the end zone for a touchdown during the second half.(Tim Ireland / Associated Press)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff, middle, is smacked by Arizona Cardinals’ Antoine Bethea, right, and Tyvon Branch while running in for a touchdown in the first half.(Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) forces his way into the end zone to score a touchdown during the first half.(Tim Ireland / Associated Press)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) celebrates with offensive tackle Rob Havenstein (79) after Goff scored a touchdown against Arizona Cardinals strong safety Tyvon Branch (27) during the first half.(Matt Dunham / Associated Press)
The Arizona Cardinals’ Josh Bynes, left, breaks up a pass to the Rams’ Cooper Kupp in the end zone during first half action in London on Sunday.(Matt Dunham / Associated Press)
Arizona’s Brittain Golden (10) fights for the pass with the Rams’ Kavon Webster.(Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images)
Rams’ Tavon Austin (11) runs the ball against the Arizona Cardinals.(Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images)
Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of a game against the Cardinals in London.(Matt Dunham / Associated Press)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (36) during the first half.(Matt Dunham / Associated Press)
Rams running back Todd Gurley holds off Cardinals inside linebacker Deone Bucannon during second half action.(Matt Dunham / Associated Press)
“Our defense has done a great job of continuing to improve,” McVay said. “They’re playing together.”
Wade Phillips installed his signature 3-4 scheme when he took over as defensive coordinator. Through several games, the growing pains were obvious. The Rams struggled to slow the run, and at times looked vulnerable in the secondary.
On Sunday, four games of steady improvement culminated in a shutout.
Donald said the defense played with “confidence” and “swag.”
“We’ve just been playing good,” said Donald, who recorded a sack and two tackles for losses, adding “everybody is just feeding off each other.”
In the second quarter, Ogletree delivered the hit that sent Palmer to the sideline.
Palmer hurried a deep pass into the middle of the field on the play. Safety Lamarcus Joyner intercepted it, then made a 29-yard return that setup a Todd Gurley touchdown on the next play to give the Rams a 13-0 lead.
Ogletree said that he was not blitzing on the play, but read the coverage.
Joyner, playing in his first game since suffering a hamstring injury against the San Francisco 49ers, said he “kind of knew” he would intercept the pass as the play developed.
“That was just a good defensive call, film study” he said.
Palmer completed 10 of 18 passes for 122 yards, with one interception.
A week after the Rams slowed down rookie sensation Leonard Fournette, they shut down Peterson, a seven-time Pro-Bowl selection.
Peterson, fresh off a 134-yard rushing game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, only rushed for 21 yards in 11 carries against the Rams.
Brockers said stopping Peterson was the priority.
“You get 11 hats to the ball, you stop him before he gets started,” Brockers said, “Man, he turns into a normal human being [rather] than the hall of famer he truly is.”
Mark Barron played in cast, nursing a broken thumb, but that didn’t stop the linebacker from intercepting a pass from backup quarterback Drew Stanton late in the first half. Barron returned the interception 10 yards to set up a field goal that put the Rams in command 23-0 before halftime.
“You can’t make excuses,” Barron said, as he looked at his left hand that was freed from the cast after the game. “You’ve got to find a way to go out and play with it.”
The Rams have an open date Sunday then travel to New Jersey to face the Giants.
Donald said after a 5-2 start, “The sky is the limit.”