LONDON — Adrian Peterson’s second game in Britain was remarkably similar to his first — and the Arizona Cardinals are soon going to need much more from him on a consistent basis.
Peterson rushed for 21 yards on 11 carries in the Cardinals’ 33-0 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, three weeks and one trade after he made a forgettable appearance for the New Orleans Saints.
And while the 32-year-old now figures to have an increased role for the Cardinals with quarterback Carson Palmer out eight weeks as he recovers from a broken left arm, it’s one that he didn’t feel quite ready to confront.
“Of course, running the ball will help us a lot … but it’s too early right now to be talking about me,” Peterson said.
Peterson, a four-time All-Pro, seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time rushing leader, signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the Saints in April after 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
But between the reliance of Mark Ingram and the emergence of rookie Alvin Kamara, the Saints had no need for Peterson. Enter the Cardinals, who lost David Johnson to a wrist injury in the season opener and had a rushing attack that ranked last in total yards through the first five weeks.
Thus, Peterson was acquired by Arizona on Oct. 11 in exchange for an undisclosed draft pick. He rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns in his first game, a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, and earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
In fact, his 26 carries in his Cardinals debut nearly matched the 27 carries he totaled had in four games for the Saints. Four of those, for a net gain of four yards, were in a 20-0 win over the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 1.
The circumstances of the game on Sunday — an early deficit, magnified by Palmer’s second-quarter injury — forced the Cardinals to rely on backup Drew Stanton and the passing game more than they wanted.
“We struggled to get a running game going and didn’t stick with it probably because it wasn’t working,” coach Bruce Arians said.
Stanton, the Cardinals’ backup since 2013, will take over for Palmer going forward. He made it clear what he needs from Peterson once Arizona returns to work.
“Make sure I don’t leave anything out there,” Stanton said. “I know I left a couple of plays out there in the run game and in the pass game as well. I need to clean up what I can do, and that will help us a lot.”
Here are some more things we learned in the Rams’ 33-0 victory over the Cardinals:
MAKING A STATEMENT: The Rams, at 5-2, hope the rest of the NFC West has taken note of their start.
“I think today we sent a message to our division,” defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. “We’re not going to sneaking up on anybody. We’re expecting everybody’s A-plus game and we’re up for the challenge.”
The last time the Rams won five of their first seven games was in 2003, which not only marked their last division title but was also the last time they finished with a winning record.
Eighth-year left guard Rodger Saffold, the Rams’ longest-tenured player, said the lack of dreariness from years past has been refreshing.
“I think the spirit is just up a million,” Saffold said. “It’s nice to be on the winning side and I think the mentality of the team, constantly grinding and taking it week-to-week and not enjoying the spoils too much, has been ecstatic.”
GOING FOR TWO: The Cardinals failed to win consecutive games this season and, at 3-4, have not had a three-game winning streak since 2015, when they went 13-3 and lost in the NFC championship game.
STOPPING THE SACKS: Goff was sacked just once on Sunday, marking the 10th time he has been dropped in seven games. It’s vastly different from last season, his first, when he was sacked seven times by the Cardinals in a Week 17 loss.