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Rams knock Carson Palmer out of game with broken arm, shut out Cardinals in London

No one wants to be anointed. Not yet, anyway.

Despite mounting evidence to support the argument, Rams coach Sean McVay and most of his jubilant players stopped short of proclaiming themselves legitimate playoff contenders.

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The Rams denied it after routing the Arizona Cardinals 33-0 before 73,736 at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday. They pretty much said pump the brakes after improving to 5-2 for the first time in 14 years.

Slow down, they said, after remaining unbeaten on the road with their first shutout since 2014 … and playing what McVay described as their best game of the season.

"We haven't arrived by any stretch," McVay said, "but 5-2 is a good feeling. But that's all it is right now."

Under the 31-year-old McVay, the Rams appear to be on their way.

Yes, the offense could be more efficient inside the 20-yard line. And McVay admittedly could manage timeouts better. But that's being picky at this point.

The defense knocked Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer out of the game with a broken arm, intercepted two passes and shut down running back Adrian Peterson.

Quarterback Jared Goff ran and passed for touchdowns, Todd Gurley rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown, and Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals as the Rams cruised to victory.

The Rams have an open date this week, and then they will go on the road again to play the New York Giants. They have a chance to come out of what looked like an onerous stretch of the schedule with three consecutive wins.

The Rams have taken road trips as short as a one-hour flight to San Francisco, several hours to Dallas and a 10-day stay in Jacksonville and London.

It does not seem to matter. They seem to adapt to the road life.

Sunday's NFC West game was a designated Rams "home" game, but it came at the end of a long trip and pushed the Rams' record away from the Coliseum to 4-0.

Unlike their previous two games in London, when they spent the entire week here and lost, the Rams remained in Florida after playing at Jacksonville last week. They arrived in London on Friday.

The change paid dividends in performance.

"Just the way we scheduled it out, like when we were flying, when to sleep, when not to sleep, all that stuff," said Goff, who scored from nine yards out on a zone-read keeper and also connected with receiver Cooper Kupp for an 18-yard catch-and-run scoring play.

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Sunday's outcome essentially was sealed when Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree crashed into Palmer in the second quarter. The collision broke Palmer's left arm and led to an interception by safety Lamarcus Joyner that set up Gurley's 18-yard touchdown run en route to a 23-0 halftime lead.

The defensive performance maintained a trend that began in the second half against Dallas in Week 4, continued against Seattle and Jacksonville and culminated with the shutout against a Cardinals team that scored 38 points last week against Tampa Bay.

"We definitely haven't peaked yet," Ogletree said. "Definitely a lot more to come."

Looming on the horizon is a possible playoff berth for the first time since 2004.

Defensive lineman Michael Brockers said the Rams "sent a message" to the rest of the division, and that they would not be sneaking up on anybody. The remained a half-game ahead of Seattle (4-2) and moved two games ahead of Arizona (3-4).

But Brockers stopped short of affirming the Rams' legitimacy as a playoff contender just yet.

"I'm not making any predictions or anything," he said. "This is a good team, that's all I want to let you know. We're a good team."

Receiver Robert Woods, who had a game-high five catches for 59 yards, said the Rams expected to play well, but "We're not even thinking about playoffs."

Offensive lineman Rodger Saffold acknowledged that he was enjoying success the franchise has not experienced since he was drafted in 2010. The Rams have established themselves as a contender, he said, "but I think it's still a long season."

The Rams will return to Thousand Oaks on Monday, regroup for a few days and then take a break until next week. The break will allow players to rest and heal as they prepare for the final game of the first half, and the resumption of their drive for a playoff spot.

"With the bye, guys are able to get fresh," Woods said. "We're playing well, playing fast. But I'm hoping it's another gear when we get back."

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

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