The NFL has again returned to the UK for International Series game three between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams. Two different teams were not the only noticeable changes for game three, with a later kick off time of 6 pm and Twickenham Stadium taking over as the capitals venue of choice.
The game between the Cardinals and Rams had a back story of a fierce divisional rivalry ready to play out in front of the ever-eager UK NFL fans. Those of you that follow the IntoTheEndZone website and Twitter account know I am a massive Cardinals fan and if you went to the game or already know the score you know how much harder this article was to write…
Arriving at Twickenham Stadium
Upon arrival at Twickenham we were greeted by the NFL tailgate party in full swing with a whole host of events happening. The Tailgate was split into multiple sections (East, West and Inner) meaning everything was spread out and allowed more people to move about. Familiar fan favourites including the NFL Lab and the Big Rig returned as well as a few new attractions including the Cardinals radio shack.
The 2017 NFL London Games Fan Mobile Pass presented by Subway again came into its own with a map of the days attractions, updates and allowing you to scan QR codes making the most of the build-up events with prizes up for grabs too – hopefully they keep this feature for next week’s game between the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings.
Inside The Stadium
Once inside and under the floodlights, the LA Rams Cheerleaders kicked us off with a dazzling performance on the pitch. Following this, were the impressive marching band combos of the Royal Marines and Waterloo Band & Bugles of the Rifles, each presenting their own performances and then coming together for an impressive duet to finish.
National Anthems were sung and a Giant Union jack and Stars and Stripes displayed on the pitch. It was finally time for FOOTBALL!
It’s Finally Game Time …
The LA Rams won the coin toss and elected to kick with Greg Zuerlein providing the first action of the game being returned by Kerwynn Williams for 21 yards. It was like déjà vu on the opening play when the Cardinals decided to follow the Dolphins philosophy from International Series game two: Make an impressive opening drive of 62 yards and when it comes to putting points on the board, Phil Dawson fluffed the field goal to the left of the post, this was the start of the end for the Cardinals. Some kickers don’t seem to like kicking in London!!
The Rams took over at the 22 yard line. A solid opening drive ended in a 23 yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein – who does like kicking in London. The first quarter never really got any better than that with each team fielding a lack-luster drive with a total combined 24 yards!
Momentum Swing For The LA Rams
The second quarter opened with a Cardinals 3 and out followed by a Rams drive filled with rushing plays from Gurley and Austin helped along by two 5 yard penalties from the Cardinals. They topped it off with another 3 points on the board courtesy of Zuerlein. They key turning point in this game came a few drives later when Carson Palmer threw a pass intended for J.J Nelson but was intercepted by Lamarcus Joyner, returning it to the Arizona 18 yard line. Gurley then got his weight behind it and went on an impressive 18 yard run to the left and in for the touchdown!
The Rams had taken complete control of this game and if this wasn’t bad enough the Cardinals, starting quarterback Carson Palmer was taken to the locker room after the interception with a now confirmed broken left arm leaving backup quarterback Drew Stanton with it all to do.
The Rams continued their dominance with another impressive 83 yard drive punched in by Jared Goff for a 9 yard touchdown and another field goal. The teams headed into the locker rooms with the score at a commanding 23-0.
The Rams started the second half as they did the first with another clinical drive of 54 yards again helped on by 2 more Arizona penalties and finished with a 34 yard field goal and 3 more points. Late in the third quarter the final flicker of life from the Cardinals team blew up with Deone Bucannon intercepting Goff and returning for 40 yards to the LA 46 yard line. Stanton threw his best pass of the game a 25-yarder to Kerwynn Williams but this drive, like the majority before it, fizzled out and ended with a familiar Arizona punt.
It’s A Shutout!!
LA then put the final nails in the coffin on the very next drive. A 90 yard attack which also chewed up 10 minutes of the clock ending in an 18 yard pass from Goff to Cooper Kupp for the touchdown. One drive from each team followed and we were all wrapped up at 33-0 to the Rams and the second international series shutout.
Although the game not as one sided as the Saints vs Dolphins shutout a few weeks ago, the Rams were definitely the better team and fully deserved the win.
The Cardinals didn’t seem to have an answer for the run game Sunday allowing 197 yards with a particular notable performance from Todd Gurley contributing 106 of them. The Cardinals run game never got going with Adrian Peterson in contrast only managing 21 of the Cardinals measly 25 yard total. Even with departing early in the second quarter, Palmer still managed 122 yards which is impressive from the Veteran but quarterback of the day was only going to one man Jared Goff with a solid-enough 235 yards, 1 TD and 1 Interception.
Quick Stat: 3rd down efficiency was dominated by the Rams 13-3 backed up by the 39:01 possession.
Being a Cardinals fan it was hard to recap this week, after turning up and seeing the Red Sea out in true force and by hearing the initial cheers in the stadium I think the Rams home game was definitely attended by more of the away supporters. Unfortunately, Sunday was definitely not our day and we had to witness our team get spanked.
However we must not forget it is a privilege we get to witness any NFL games in the UK, let alone the team we support, some 5,000 miles away making the trip. I just hope the Rams truly dominant performance hasn’t put the Cardinals off coming again.
A Touching Tribute For Kevin Cadle
More important than the game itself Sunday was the touching tribute shown on the stadium screens to Kevin Cadle, the much loved former Sky Sports presenter and former basketball coach, who sadly died earlier this month. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
Well that concludes the recap for International Series game 3. We hope to see lots of you down at Twickenham for next week’s match up between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cleveland Browns. In the meantime hit us up with your thoughts on twitter @IntoTheEndZone_ & @Matt_ITEZ, until next time.