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Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals: Pro Football Focus game notes shine on defense

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

Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald
Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Here are Pro Football Focus’ notes on the Los Angeles Rams’ 32-16 Week 13 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

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

Week 13 Rams Offensive Stats

The Rams' highest graded offensive player was running back Todd Gurley, who finished Sunday's game with an overall grade of 85.1. Gurley forced five missed tackles in the run game, the most this season, while gaining 56 of his 74 rushing yards after contact. Combining Gurley's five forced missed tackles from Sunday with his eight in Week 12 (3 run, 5 receiving) Gurley now has a combined 13 missed tackles forced over the last two games, the most combined by any running back. His PFF elusive rating is 84.8 in that time span, which ranks fourth among other running backs, though he has touched the ball more than the three ahead of him. He's also second in yards gained per pass route, 2.84, while having the third most snaps in route with 49 over the course of the last two weeks.

For the second week in a row, left guard Rodger Saffold didn't allow a single quarterback pressure, while allowing only one over the last three weeks. His 99.4 pass block efficiency since Week 11 is third among all guards and is first among all guards with at least 100 pass blocking snaps, which he has 119 such snaps. Through 13 weeks of the season, Saffold has his highest graded season at 82.9 and sits as the ninth highest graded guard. Saffold is just one fifth of the reason why quarterback Jared Goff is currently seventh in passer rating on drop backs where he faces no pressure, which is 108.8 and has the fourth most passing yards on such drop backs with 2,401.

In the Rams' first meeting against the Cardinals, quarterback Jared Goff finished with an overall grade of 52.8. The second time around Goff showed his growth, finishing Week 13 with a 79.7, 12th among quarterbacks through Sunday's afternoon games. Goff was absolutely magnificent on drop backs where the Cardinals did not blitz, which he had 16 of. He completed 13 of his 15 attempts for 150 yards, one touchdown, and a passer rating of 130.6. Usually, it's the blitz that Goff picks apart, but that has not been the case in the two meetings against the Cardinals. Sunday he went eight for 16 on drop backs when blitzed for 71 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and a passer rating of 57.0. With Sunday's performance against the blitz, Goff has now gone 66-for-11 on attempts when blitzed for 931 yards, eight touchdowns, two interceptions, five sacks, and a passer rating of 103.1, well above the 88.6 league average.

Rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp continues to add to his rookie-leading numbers, this time finishing as the 21st highest graded wide receiver with his 77.8 game grade. He caught five of his six targets against four different defenders for a passer rating of 113.9 when targeted, with a third of his targets resulting in a first down. Kupp has now been targeted 76 times in 2017 and has 51 receptions for 665 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception when targeted for a passer rating of 102.1 when targeted. His targets lead all rookie receivers, as do his 51 receptions, in fact, his 51 receptions are more than all but one rookie wide receiver's targets this season.

Sunday's performance by the Rams' offensive line resulted in only three quarterback pressures allowed on 32 pass blocking snaps, tied for third fewest among all units in Week 13. It was the second time this season they allowed only three quarterback pressures, though they had 10 less passing plays the first time the did so. With that, the Rams' offensive line ranks 10th in both total pressures allowed with 106 on 420 pass blocking snaps pass blocking efficiency with an 80.3 (only 11 teams are at 80.0 or higher). In those two weeks where the offensive line has allowed only three quarterback pressures, Jared Goff has gone 29-of-39 for 453 yards, four touchdowns, one interception, and has a passer rating of 136.0 (second best) on drop backs facing no pressure, with 72.2 percent of his drop backs in those two weeks facing no pressure.

​​Week 13 Rams Defensive Stats

After finishing Week 12 with his lowest total quarterback pressures since ending his holdout, interior defender Aaron Donald was back to his elite level play with his nine quarterback pressures. He added three defensive stops on top of the quarterback pressures for the Rams' highest grade of Week 13 at 90.4. Donald now has five games this season where he has generated at least nine quarterback pressures, which was his previous game-high before he produced 10 in back-to-back weeks starting in Week 5. With nine more quarterback pressures, Donald is now only 11 away from his previous season high of 82 (2016) despite the fact that he missed Week 1 of the season and didn't put up the ridiculous numbers that fans have been accustomed to.

Safety Lamarcus Joyner continued his amazing season in Week 13 with his 88.3 overall game grade. He continues to play at an elite level in the passing game, shown by his 93.2 coverage grade against the Cardinals. He was targeted a whopping three times on 41 coverage snaps while allowing only one catch into his coverage, defending one, and intercepting one for a passer rating of 8.3 when targeting him. Joyner is now leading all safeties in passer rating allowed into his coverage with his 22.7 on 22 targets. Of the 22 targets that have been thrown into his coverage this season. Joyner has intercepted three of them and defended four others for the highest coverage grade among safeties through 13 weeks of the season at 93.5.

In the first start of his career, edge defender Samson Ebukam earned the 15th highest grade among his position with a 78.4. Ebukam generated four quarterback pressures, second to only Aaron Donald on the team, and led the Rams in defensive stops with four. His four stops were tied for the most among all edge defenders through Sunday's afternoon games and his 20.0 run stop percentage ranked first among the position. Ebukam also lead all rookie edge defenders in quarterback pressures in Week 13 with his four, in fact, the only two edge defenders selected ahead of Ebukam to have more than two quarterback pressures were No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett and No. 3 overall pick Soloman Thomas.

Interior defender Michael Brockers continues to add to his best season since entering the NFL, this time finishing with an overall grade of 79.7. He was able to generate three quarterback pressures, three defensive stops, and blocked a field goal. Brockers is now four quarterback pressures away from setting a new season-high, currently with 21 and is five defensive stops away from a new season-high. Brockers' 28 defensive stops on the season are tied for fourth among 69 interior defenders. Of his 28 stops, 16 have come in the run game, resulting in the eighth highest run stop percentage among interior defenders at 12.0 on 133 run snaps.

Once the leader of the defense left the game, Alec Ogletree, it was time for Bryce Hager to step up, which he did. He finished the game with a grade of 76.8, which was 17th among all linebackers through Sunday's afternoon games. He was able to cover in the passing game, which was shown by the two targets into his coverage on 25 coverage snaps. He allowed one catch while defending another for an average of 0.64 yards allowed per coverage snap and a passer rating of 77.1. Hager was also able to generate his second quarterback pressure of the season, and career, while adding a defensive stop. Without word on Ogletree, Hager appears to be ready to fill-in if needed.