Takeaways from the short-handed Rams’ upset win over the Arizona Cardinals

Sony Michel runs with the ball during a Rams game.
Running back Sony Michel (25) was one of several Rams who filled in ably for teammates on the COVID-19 list in a win over the Arizona Cardinals.
(Ralph Freso / Associated Press)

The Rams improved to 9-4 with a 30-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Monday night.

Here’s what we learned:

The Rams are resilient — and they can defeat a winning team

Hours before the game, the Rams learned star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and tight end Tyler Higbee would be placed on the reserve COVID-19 list, joining running back Darrell Henderson, offensive lineman Rob Havenstein and cornerback Donte Deayon.

Coleman Shelton started at center in place of injured Brian Allen. Kendall Blanton and Brycen Hopkins filled in at tight end. David Long, Kareem Orr and Terrell Burgess played in the secondary.


And the Rams — who had not defeated a team with a winning record since a victory over the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3 — beat a division rival that entered the game with the best record in the NFL.

Matthew Stafford is back on track

Let’s be frank: The Rams quarterback played error free against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but that didn’t mean much. We didn’t know if he truly had recaptured his early-season form.

He proved it against the Cardinals.

Stafford made smart decisions, passed for three touchdowns and did not turn over the ball. He continued a seemingly telepathic connection with Cooper Kupp, gave Van Jefferson another opportunity to go deep and showed a growing sense of timing with Odell Beckham Jr.

Matthew Stafford obliterated doubts about his ability to win big games with a brilliant performance in the Rams’ 30-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Dec. 13, 2021

His four-touchdown performance against the Buccaneers was good. Given the situation and the playoff implications against the Cardinals, this one was better.

Joe Noteboom ranks among the Rams’ most valuable players

The soft-spoken Noteboom lacks the pizzazz and resume of stars Ramsey, Stafford, Beckham, Kupp, Aaron Donald and Von Miller.

But the fourth-year offensive lineman once again showed his value and versatility.

A week after playing tight end in heavy formations for the first time, he started at right tackle in place of Havenstein, helped Sony Michel rush for 79 yards in 20 carries and prevented Stafford from absorbing monstrous hits.


Noteboom, in the final year of his contract, might not project as a dominant left tackle, but his versatility could earn him a big payday.

Overcoming injuries and players on the COVID list, the Rams picked up a signature victory over the first-place Arizona Cardinals on Monday night.

Dec. 13, 2021

The defensive front is coming together

Donald tipped a pass that rookie linebacker Ernest Jones intercepted, amassed three sacks and generally played like a three-time NFL defensive player of the year. Leonard Floyd intercepted a pass. Miller harassed Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray. Greg Gaines got another sack.

This is what coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead envisioned when they acquired Miller at the trade deadline. Miller has yet to record a sack for the Rams. When he does, the group celebration should be something to behold.

Young players in the secondary stepped up

Even the most seasoned defensive backs have a tough time against Murray.

With Ramsey and Deayon sidelined, Long, Orr and Burgess stepped in.

Sure, there were some long completions. But the Rams did not give up a touchdown pass.

Matt Gay remains nearly perfect

Gay kicked field goals of 55, 35 and 33 yards, making him 26 of 27 this season.

Gay has not had the opportunity to win a game with late kick, but that is probably coming by season’s end.

Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Rams’ 30-23 road win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday — scoring and statistics.

Dec. 13, 2021