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3 big takeaways from the Cardinals' loss to the Rams in Glendale

3 big takeaways from the Cardinals' loss to the Rams in Glendale
Posted at 5:29 PM, Dec 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-03 19:30:01-05

The Los Angeles Rams completed the season sweep over the Arizona Cardinals, and likely ended their division rivals' playoff hopes in the process.

The Rams defeated the Cardinals 32-16 at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday to drop the Cards to 5-7 on the season and improve their own record to 9-3. The win follows up the Rams' 33-0 shutout of the Cardinals in London in October.

Here are three big takeaways from the Cards' loss:

1. Special teams seal Cards' fate

You can point to a number of factors for the Rams' win on Sunday, including the play of running back Todd Gurley (158 total yards) and the Rams' defense. But it was the Rams' superior special-teams play that likely hammered that final nail in the Cards' playoff prospects.

For the game, the Rams blocked two Cardinals kicks -- one on an extra point and another on a field-goal attempt that would have trimmed LA's lead to seven points in the fourth quarter. They also had a 30-yard punt return by Pharoh Cooper to set up a third-quarter touchdown, and Johnny Hekker averaged nearly 52 yards on four punts to force the Cardinals into poor field position.

Special teams have been a problem on and off for the Cardinals since the first game of the 2016 season. The on switch was flipped once again Sunday.

2. Gabbert gobbled up by Rams

After turning in a stellar performance against a very good Jaguars defense last weekend, third-string quarterback Blaine Gabbert looked much more human Sunday, throwing two early interceptions that the Cardinals never overcame.

For the game, Gabbert completed 17 of 31 passes for 205 yards and that TD pass to Fitzgerald, and he was sacked five times. The Rams' defense was just too much to handle, just as they were against Carson Palmer (and later Drew Stanton) during their meeting in London in October.

3. Larry keeps rewriting the record books

Funny how Larry Fitzgerald is always a bright spot in Cardinals losses. On Sunday, the future Hall of Famer was that bright spot once again, catching 10 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.

Fitzgerald's big day moved him into fourth place on the all-time receiving yards list, and made him just the third player in NFL history with 1,200 career catches. Here's hoping Larry decides to come back next year to further solidify his status as one of the greatest to ever play his game.