From the reactions to my bold predictions post a couple of days ago, Los Angeles Rams fans were expecting a blowout in Tennessee. And for good reason. The Rams have been firing on all cylinders, save for a massive loss to the kicking game, and the Tennessee Titans have lost two straight to the Cardinals and 49ers. So, a cakewalk, am I right?
Well, it was an ugly game that almost slipped away. The refs were all over the place, Jared Goff fumbled the ball twice, and our kicker probably won’t be on the team next week. However, it’s indicative of this team that even with an uneven performance on the road, McVay’s team dug in their heels and found a way to win.
Let’s look at the expected and unexpected aspects to the game:
Expected: Greg Zuerlein left enormous shoes to fill
The fact that the Rams got the W in Tennessee with an unproven kicker who’s been with the team for less than a week is a gift. It could have gone a LOT worse. However, don’t doubt for a second that GM Les Snead and the rest of the Rams front office aren’t lighting up the phones this week in an effort to find a kicker that’s up to the task more than K Sam Ficken. In my opinion, Ficken just isn’t the guy. His condifence has to be reeling after this horrific performance: missing an extra point, a field goal, and his presence on the roster even made the Rams elect to try a fake punt instead of a 50-yard kick, which would have been a no-question attempt for Zuerlein.
Unexpected: Todd Gurley may have just nailed down the MVP award
How is this unexpected you ask? Well, I was under the impression that Coach McVay’s game plan was going to be more pass friendly, especially since the Titans are strong against the run. I was merely expecting Todd Gurley to post good numbers, but nothing that was going to win a fantasy team a championship. But two things happened: a) Todd Gurley still shredded the Titans defense on the ground with 118 yards on 22 carries, and b) he thrived on the screen passes, eating up 150 yards on 10 receptions. Gurley’s ability to use his downfield blockers on the screen passes was on full display, proving that he’s an elite player that is the heart and soul of this Rams team and deserves the league’s MVP honor.
Expected: CB Troy Hill was targeted all day to mixed results
Hell, if I was drawing up the plays for the Titans, I’d make sure the ball was throw in Troy Hill’s direction all day when the other choice is Trumaine Johnson. I don’t want to hate on Troy Hill too much, because he’s a backup that’s doing his best against pretty good pass catchers in WR Corey Davis and TE Eric Decker. Did he allow several completions that kept the Titan’s offense in the game? Sure. But he didn’t kill us with penalties and made a crucial stop on 3rd down that led to a field goal instead of a possible touchdown for the Titans. Also: in the related expected category, S John Johnson turned in another strong performance, breaking up a pass with an impressively athletic move.
Unexpected: Jared Goff earned his first 4th quarter comeback
With his beautiful throw to WR Cooper Kupp in the 4th quarter to take the lead, QB Jared Goff did what many top-teir QBs do — win the game with their arm. Mainly due to the fact that the Rams have blown out a lot of team’s this year, Jared Goff had not thrown a winning TD pass until this past Sunday. And with the way Todd Gurley was playing, few Rams fans were counting on Cooper Kupp to pull in an astounding catch that will most likely make the Rams’ highlight reel for the season.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: it’s unexpected that this game was so close that Goff even needed to win the game with that pass to Kupp. However, it makes me excited to see more breathtaking plays like that in the playoffs.