Los Angeles Rams reach new horizons by not looking ahead

GLENDALE, Ariz. — It would have been hard to blame the Los Angeles Rams if they were looking ahead to next week’s NFC showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles.

After all, the Rams on Sunday were playing the Arizona Cardinals, a team they absolutely destroyed back in Week 7 with a 33-0 drubbing in London.

If ever there was a dreaded “trap game,” it was this one at University of Phoenix Stadium against a depleted Arizona team that entered with a 5-6 record.

“It typically is,” Rams veteran left guard Andrew Whitworth said. “I mean, you look at NFL history, just in general across the league, this is usually one of those major trap games.”

Except it wasn’t. These new-look Rams wouldn’t allow it. They kept next week’s matchup with the Eagles out of their heads, rolled up their sleeves and put another major hurt on the Cardinals 32-16.

The victory improved Los Angeles to 9-3, assuring the franchise of its first winning season since 2003, when it was still located in St. Louis.

“I hadn’t heard a soul talk about the Eagles or was even worried about the Eagles or think about the Eagles,” Whitworth said. “To be honest, until this game was over, it was the first time anybody did bring up that game. That to me was definitely what you saw on the field.”

Whitworth credited first-year coach Sean McVay and the rest of the coaching staff for keeping the players fully focused on the Cardinals and only the Cardinals.

Now, of course, it’s all about facing the Eagles, who had the best record in the league (10-1) entering Sunday night’s game at Seattle.

“I feel like it’s going to be a great challenge for us,” McVay said. “It’s going to count as one game, but our guys will be ready to go.”

So will the quarterbacks, Los Angeles’ Jared Goff and Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz, who went first and second overall, respectively, in the 2016 draft.

“I think it’s exciting for those guys,” McVay said. “I think everyone has a tendency to say it’s Jared Goff vs. Carson, but really, Jared is going to be going up against Philadelphia’s defense and Carson will be going up against our defense. It’s going to be a great challenge.”

Goff, who threw two touchdown passes against Arizona and now has 11 in his last five games, is just happy to be a part of the Rams’ turnaround this season. Getting to nine wins, he said, is exciting.

“I think it’s a very cool thing to say we have a winning season,” he said. “Long time and very cool, but by no means are we finished. It’s Week 13 and we’ve got four more to play. Hopefully, we get a few more.”

Linebacker Alec Ogletree, who returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown before leaving with a hyperextended elbow, agreed.

“It feels good,” he said. “I mean, 9-3 is better than 8-3 and 10-3 would even be better. It’s a big win for us today. It’s in the division and we’re excited about it. We have a big challenge next week. We’ll enjoy this one for today and turn our attention towards next week.”

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