Taylor Rapp’s first interception is a pick-six as Rams’ defense dominates Cardinals
Eric Weddle hugged Taylor Rapp, smacked his hand for a low high-five, then hugged him again. Samson Ebukam grabbed the rookie safety by the shoulder pads and bumped him with his facemask. An army of other teammates and camouflage-clad Rams staff members excitedly lined Rapp’s procession all the way back to the bench.
On a day that gave the entire Rams defense plenty to celebrate, Rapp’s first career interception — which he returned for a touchdown in the third quarter of a 34-7 blowout over the Arizona Cardinals — received the most raucous reactions.
“First one being a pick-six is pretty special,” Rapp said with a wide smile. “I’m going to remember it forever.”
A week after getting torched by Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, the Rams’ defense played with their hair on fire against Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. The defensive stats were staggering: 198 yards, 3.5 yards per carry, six sacks, and a near-shutout that wasn’t snapped until midway through the fourth quarter with some reserves on the field.
“We knew we had to show up,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “We just moved on, stuck to a game plan, prepared well.”
Dante Fowler set the tone with an early sack and key first-quarter pass-breakup. Donald made perhaps the most physical play, slipping a single blocker in the second quarter and slamming Murray to the ground with one arm. Rapp sealed the contest with his pick-six, capping the Rams’ dominant afternoon with a takeaway that was a long time coming.
Jared Goff delivers a ‘better’ performance, passing for 424 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ 34-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
“It was a sigh of relief for him, for all of us,” cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. “We kept telling him it was going to come back to him.”
Indeed, in recent weeks, Rapp had been hearing about his interception drought. A lot.
“We’d been giving him a hard time about it,” quarterback Jared Goff said, chuckling.
Rapp seemingly had ended the streak earlier in the third quarter when he came up with a deflected ball over the middle, but a pass-interference review overturned it. He had another opportunity for a pick-six in the first half too, but let a pass slip through his hands.
Tyler Higbee made plenty of memorable catches in the Rams’ 34-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, showcasing his skill and importance to the offense.
“I was super mad at myself,” said Rapp, who cited another drop during an October game in London against the Cincinnati Bengals. “I think I was thinking about that one all the way up until I got the one that actually counted.”
Alas, the ball found Rapp again on a second and 10 from the Cardinals’ 25. Murray dropped back to pass, but apparently didn’t see Rapp dropping into coverage. When the rookie quarterback threw to his right, the rookie safety was in perfect position for the 31-yard return.
“I read Kyler’s eyes,” Rapp said. “I could feel a little over route … behind me. I was able to read his eyes, and able to capitalize on it.”
A second-round draft selection this summer, Rapp has capitalized on opportunities all season. A strong training camp put him in the special team’s rotation and made him a key special team’s contributor. John Johnson’s season-ending shoulder injury after Week 6 elevated Rapp into a starting role. Over the course of the season, he has collected 72 tackles, three for loss, and knocked away seven passes.
Robert Woods tied his career high with 13 catches and set a career high with 172 yards receiving as the Rams rolled over the Arizona Cardinals, 34-7.
“I’ve been able to feel more comfortable game in, game out,” Rapp said. “Keep progressing each game. Now I feel like I’m out there making plays, playing loose.”
Rapp was a wanted man postgame. He swapped jerseys with former University of Washington teammates Byron Murphy, Budda Baker and Ezekiel Turner. He was stopped for an on-the-field interview. Then he was rushed into the locker room to receive the game ball — a fitting recipient for a win filled with big plays on defense.
“He was due,” Goff said. “His first one was a pick-six. Pretty good.”
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