The pressure came from all angles.
Up the middle. Off the edges. From both areas at the same time.
The Rams defense did not wait to see whether the offense could avoid turnovers in an NFC wild-card playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night.
Instead, lineman Aaron Donald and linebacker Von Miller led a unit that swarmed Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, forced two turnovers and completely dominated in a 34-11 victory before 70,625 at SoFi Stadium.
The Rams intercepted two passes — one that cornerback David Long Jr. returned for a touchdown — and punter Johnny Hekker recaptured his All-Pro form and consistently pinned the Cardinals, making it easy for Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford to record his first playoff victory.
“That was exactly what we wanted to be able to do,” coach Sean McVay said of his team’s complete performance.
Stafford connected with receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp for touchdown passes and sneaked for another as the Rams advanced to a divisional-round game against the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady on Sunday in Tampa, Fla.
“What a team effort,” said Stafford, who completed 13 of 17 passes for 202 yards. “Our defense played outstanding… special teams set up a score with a giant play to pin them down there, did a great job on field goals, and we were good enough on offense to score some…