Cardinals Will Make History With Rams Outside of MNF Showdown

Kyler Murray

Getty Kyler Murray throws the football against the Rams' pass rush during the Cardinals' home loss on Monday, December 13.

There will be firsts inside SoFi Stadium when the Arizona Cardinals travel to Inglewood to take on the Los Angeles Rams on Monday, January 17.

First Monday Night Football playoff game in NFL history? Both have that box checked. First playoff appearance for Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury? Both will witness that first in their NFL career as quarterback and head coach. First time these two teams will meet as division foes in the playoffs? Yes, since the 1975 divisional round meeting came when the Cards represented the NFC East as St. Louis.

But there is another significant moment when the NFC West rivals clash inside the crystalized SoFi Stadium — one that one Rams executive pointed out in a Thursday, January 13 conversation with Heavy.

Game Will be Played on This National Holiday for the First Time Ever

When it comes to sports, Martin Luther King Day often becomes an action-packed NBA date — especially with MLK themed uniforms getting worn by the Atlanta Hawks on the floor one year ago.

But the first-ever Monday Night Football playoff game also becomes the first-ever NFL game, let alone any nationally-televised football game, played on MLK Day.

Kevin Demoff, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Rams, spoke to Heavy during the “30 Days Out” Super Bowl event held on Thursday at the place where the Cardinals and his team will be a part of history. Demoff shared his reaction to the moment.

“I think back to even last week for our ‘Inspire Change’ game for Week 18 when we honored Kenny Washington (former Ram who signed the first-ever NFL contract among African-American players). I think it is fitting for us to play the first Martin Luther King Day game in NFL history. And we’re working with the NFL on how to bring this game to life to properly celebrate Martin Luther King,” Demoff said.

Cardinals Opponent Endured ‘Melancholy Moment’ in Week 18

Both teams ended the 2021-22 season in the loss category.

But while the Cardinals lost their chance at winning the division and hosting a playoff game by falling to the Seattle Seahawks 38-30 to close out the regular season, the Rams endured a more gut-wrenching loss: The 27-24 overtime defeat when they lost a halftime lead for the first time under head coach Sean McVay.

Oh, they also lost a 17-point lead with a chance to clinch the No. 2 seed over the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Demoff described the moment after the Rams were defeated.

“It was such a melancholy moment when you leave the stadium Sunday: You’ve won the division, you’re wearing your NFC West champion hat. But you lost such a heartbreaking game,” Demoff said. “Then, you’re waiting anxiously on your phone to find out ‘OK, we’re going to host a game next week. Is it going to be Saturday or Sunday?’ And you really didn’t give any thought about Monday. And then sure enough, the NFL texts you and says ‘Hey, you’re going to be hosting Monday Night Football.'”

Now, the Rams will aim to redeem themselves while the Cardinals will look to end their season — making it two years in a row that the NFC West champion fell in the first round if the Cards knock off L.A.

But the excitement for the game continues to build — particularly with the MLK theme in this contest.

“I’m just excited to host the first playoff game in SoFi history. The first year this building opens for the Rams in the most competitive division in the NFL with three teams in the playoffs and three teams with double digit wins. To win that division and be able to host a playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals, and be the first Monday night game in NFL history and the first Martin Luther King Day game in NFL history is a special moment for all us and for Los Angeles,” Demoff said. “We hope to put on a good show and leave victorious.”

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