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Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints: Pro Football Focus game notes help explain how the Rams got to the 8-win mark

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Here’s how PFF saw the Rams’ win over the Saints.

Los Angeles Rams ILB Alec Ogletree tackles New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram
Los Angeles Rams ILB Alec Ogletree tackles New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Here are Pro Football Focus’ notes on the Los Angeles Rams’ 26-20 Week 12 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Give their Rams-specific account a follow on Twitter at @PFF_LARams.

Week 12 Rams Offensive Stats

With top target Robert Woods out, the whole Rams' wide receiving core stepped up in a major way. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp followed up the worst game of his career in Week 11 with the ninth highest grade among wide receivers with his 81.1 grade. Kupp set single-game career highs in targets (11), receptions (8), and yards (110). His 2.97 yards gained per route run on 37 routes run ranked seventh among wide receivers and the most for him since Week 1 where he averaged 3.17 on only 24 routes run. His teammate Sammy Watkins also saw his most targets since coming over to the Rams with nine. His opening drive touchdown got things going for the Rams, while he could have another on a play where he had the defender beat but was underthrown. His efforts earned him a 77.3 game grade, which ranked 18th among Week 12 receivers. And finally, rookie wide receiver Josh Reynolds earned an overall grade of 73.7 in his first start after hauling in four of his six targets for 37 yards and a touchdown and a passer rating of 122.9 when targeting him, the highest on the team. Reynolds was constantly getting separation and had a defender beat for another touchdown until he got just enough of the ball to tip it into his facemask instead of his hands. There is plenty more to come from Reynolds and with Woods out, expect to see it.

The highest graded Rams player in Week 12 was left guard Rodger Saffold, who earned the eighth highest grade among guards with an 83.6. Saffold was the only offensive lineman to allow zero quarterback pressures on their 48 pass blocking snaps. Not only was his grade among the best at his position, he was also the only guard to play 40 or more pass blocking snaps and not allow a quarterback pressure as well, in fact, the next closest guard to allow zero pressures had nine less pass blocking snaps. He also opened up holes for the running game when they ran his way, averaging 6.0 yards per carry when running to either the left or right of him. Through 12 weeks of the season, Saffold has his highest grade in a season with an 83.4, also, eighth among 78 guards.

Quarterback Jared Goff continues to pick defenses apart when he isn't facing pressure in the pocket. Goff dropped back 34 times without facing pressure (72.3 percent of drop backs) and completed 25 of his 34 attempts for 335 yards, two touchdowns, and a passer rating of 111.8. His 25 completions without pressure were more than any quarterback in Week 12 and was the only quarterback to throw for more than 288 when facing no pressure. Goff ranked eighth among quarterback in Week 12 with his 80.0 overall grade, along with his season grade which ranks 14th among quarterbacks.

After being shut down for pretty much all of Week 11 against the Vikings, running back Todd Gurley earned PFF's third highest elusive rating among running backs with a 114.3. On his combined 21 touches (17 run, four receptions) Gurley was able to force eight missed tackles and average 3.00 yards after contact per attempt. His eight forced missed tackles are three more than his previous season-high and the same amount he has forced over his last three games. Something more impressive is his pass blocking capabilities, which shined in Week 12. He was the only running back asked to pass block more than eight times, he did it 14 times, and did not allow a single quarterback pressure. Gurley has now stayed in to pass block 49 times this season (Ninth most) and owns the league's sixth best pass blocking efficiency among running backs that have pass blocked at least 30 times with his 95.4 and only three quarterback pressures.

For the first time since Week 7, tight end Tyler Higbee was able to haul in at least three passes, only this time, he was able to gain more than 13 yards. In fact, he gained 48 yards with 18 of those coming after the catch and while forcing two missed tackles, the second time he has done so this season. His 80.0 overall game grade ranks 12th among Week 12 tight ends, while his two forced missed tackles are the most by any tight end in Week 12. Through 12 weeks of the season Higbee has 76 of his 262 total yards after the catch, which are only 9 less than he had total yards in his rookie season.

​​Week 12 Rams Defensive Stats

For the first time in a long time, your highest graded Rams defender is not named Aaron Donald. This week's honor goes to cornerback Kayvon Webster with his 82.5. Webster was targeted six times by one of the league's best quarterbacks and allowed only three of them to be caught for 14 total yards. Two of those targets were broken up by him, resulting in a passer rating of 56.3 when throwing into his coverage. Since giving up the only touchdown against him in Week 4, Webster has played 242 coverage snaps and has been targeted 31 times. On those targets, Webster is allowing the 15th lowest yards per coverage snap with an average of only 0.75 yards is averaging a reception allowed every 14.2 coverage snaps, 16th best.

With the absence of slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman it was Lamarcus Joyner who took over coverage duties in the slot. Joyner played that position for the first three years of his NFL career before making the transition to safety, you would have thought he had been doing it all year. He was targeted four times against the Saints, allowing only one catch and breaking up another for a passer rating of 39.6 when targeting him and the Rams' highest coverage grade at 85.6. With that performance, Joyner has now been targeted 19 times on the year and has allowed nine of them to be completed, while he has intercepted or broken them five times for a 25.0 passer rating when targeted, the second lowest at his position with at least 19 targets.

Veteran edge defender Robert Quinn finished Sunday's game with his highest grade of the season at 79.2. For the first time this season Quinn was able to generate three defensive stops, also the first time he has done it since Week 8 of the 2015 season. He was also a force with his pass rush, causing a fumble on his quarterback sack and causing a holding penalty with the Saints trying to generate a comeback late. Quinn has now recorded five defensive stops in the last two games which ranks tied for eighth most among edge defenders, while he has five total through his first eight games of the season, putting his 10-total tied for 75th at the position.

Despite his coverage woes, inside linebacker Alec Ogletree was responsible for six defensive stops against the Saints, a season high. Ogletree now has 10 combined stops over the last two weeks, which is tied with Preston Brown for the most among all inside linebackers in that span. He was also able to generate another quarterback pressure, bringing his season total to 18 and a new career high that is sure to keep increasing. He is second among inside linebackers in quarterback pressures and fourth in pass rush productivity with a 21.7 on 61 pass rush snaps (Fifth most). His ability to get to the quarterback has earned him the second highest pass rush grade on the season among linebackers with a 78.0.

Even though he didn't get more pressures on the quarterback than entire teams this week, Aaron Donald was still able to generate three quarterback pressures and record two defensive stops. His three pressures were most on the team, and combined with his stops, it was the ninth straight week he was able to record multiple quarterback pressures and multiple stops in the same game, while his 81.3 game grade still ranked 15th among interior defenders in Week 12. Despite missing the first game of the season, Donald is still tied for 13th in defensive stops with 22 on the season, with 15 of them coming in the run game for a run stop percentage of 8.0.