Kyren Williams' return helps keep Rams in NFC playoff picture with rout of Cardinals (2024)


Kyren Williams considers the football field the place he can best express himself.

“I’m an artist, and this is my canvas,” the Rams running back said Sunday after a virtuoso performance against the Arizona Cardinals. “This is what I really love to do.”

That was apparent before, during and after a 37-14 victory in front of 62,177 at State Farm Stadium that kept the Rams in the hunt for a spot in the NFC playoffs.


Williams returned from injured reserve and amassed 204 total yards, rushing for 143 yards in 16 carries and catching six passes for 61 yards and two touchdowns.

Matthew Stafford passed for four touchdowns, tight end Tyler Higbee scored twice, and nose tackle Kobie Turner and safety Jordan Fuller led a defense that remained steadfast as the Rams won their second game in a row and improved their record to 5-6.

Kyren Williams' return helps keep Rams in NFC playoff picture with rout of Cardinals (1)

The Rams’ Tyler Higbee scores a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals safety Jalen Thompson tries to defend. The tight end had two touchdown catches.

(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

“It’s about one week at a time,” coach Sean McVay said when asked if the Rams were rounding into a playoff-caliber team, “and if we do that and continue to get better, then I think those conversations always take care of themselves, and that’s what served us well in previous years as well.”

Sunday’s game was Williams’ first since rushing for a career-best 158 yards in a 26-9 victory over the Cardinals on Oct. 15. Williams suffered an ankle injury in that game that sidelined him for four games.

In the moments before kickoff Sunday, Williams stood alone near the bench, preparing himself.


Getting back onto the field was “a blessing,” he said afterward.

“When you’re out from something that you love for so long, for four weeks, not being able to do what you do best, it feels good to be back,” said Williams, a fifth-round draft pick from Notre Dame in 2022.

Williams, a St. Louis native, was also happy that his performance came before multiple family members who were in town for a game that coincidentally coincided with his return.

Kyren Williams' return helps keep Rams in NFC playoff picture with rout of Cardinals (2)

Rams running back Kyren Williams hauls in a pass on his way to scoring a touchdown as Cardinals linebacker Josh Woods chases.

(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

“They know how much passion, they know how much I love this, how much I put into getting to where I am now,” he said. “So, it’s a win for all of us.”

Royce Freeman added 77 yards rushing and a touchdown as the Rams eclipsed the 30 points they scored in a season-opening victory over the Seattle Seahawks at Seattle.

“When we can run the ball like that, when you’ve got guys and you’re able to be efficient in the run game — that makes things so much easier,” receiver Cooper Kupp said. “I thought Sean did an unbelievable job matching up the run, the pass, the play-actions, the screens. ... The flow of that was really well done.”


The Cardinals (2-10) hardly qualify as a tough opponent. Since he was hired in 2017, McVay has never lost to the Cardinals on the road.

And there is still a long way to go.

But the Rams finally put together an outstanding performance on offense and defense, looking like a team that — dare it be said — is developing into a legitimate playoff team.


Rams’ 37-14 road win over the Arizona Cardinals by the numbers

Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Rams’ 37-14 road the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday — scoring and statistics.

Nov. 26, 2023

On Sunday, the Rams capitalized on the opportunity to gain ground on the Seahawks (6-5) in the NFC West.

The Rams’ 17-16 victory over the Seahawks in Week 11 ended a three-game losing streak and completed a sweep of the Seahawks. The division-leading San Francisco 49ers’ victory over the Seahawks on Thursday opened the door for the Rams.

The Rams have games remaining against the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Commanders, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants and 49ers.

There is reason for optimism, but it must be tempered by the Rams’ recent history.

After defeating the Cardinals in October, the Rams evened their record at 3-3 and sparked optimism that a playoff berth was in reach.


But with Williams sidelined for the following three games and Stafford sidelined for one, they proceeded to lose three in a row against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers before ending the skid against the Seahawks.

Can the Rams avoid a repeat?

Kyren Williams' return helps keep Rams in NFC playoff picture with rout of Cardinals (4)

Rams defensive tackle Kobie Turner sacks Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.

(Matt York / Associated Press)

“Coming out of the bye, coach McVay told us each streak starts at one,” said Turner, who recorded two sacks. “So, we’re taking it small. It’s one week at a time.

“Next week, it’s the Browns, and hopefully we can look back at the end of all this and hopefully we’ll be really proud of how we took the week to week approach and hopefully we’ll be where we want to be at the end.”

The Rams need Williams to remain physically sound. Stafford must also continue to completely work through the right thumb injury he has been managing for the last two games.

Stafford completed a 42-yard pass to Tutu Atwell early in the game and finished 25 of 33 for 229 yards, with an interception.


“I think we’re doing a decent job,” Stafford said. “We’re not exactly where we want to be, but the work ethic, the attention to detail, the fight, all that, that has been there since day one. We have that and [if] we continue to have that it’s going to serve us well.”

Fuller, who broke up four passes, said the team effort portends well for the Rams’ playoff aspirations.

“That’s what everybody on the team is working for,” he said. “We have a whole lot of growth to still do, but happy for this one.”

More to Read

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  • Rams beat 49ers to set up classic Matthew Stafford vs. Lions, Jared Goff playoff game

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Kyren Williams' return helps keep Rams in NFC playoff picture with rout of Cardinals (2024)


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