That wasn’t the way it was supposed to go...but at least it’s over.
The Los Angeles Rams fought their way through an ugly, physical contest to beat the Denver Broncos, 23-20, on the back of RB Just Todd Gurley’s big day.
Thanks in large part to an offensive line that was creating monster holes, JTG racked up 208 rushing yards for his career high and the first time a Rams back has topped 200 yards since Marshall Faulk in 2001.
But this one was also about the frustrating reliance on the pass on a day where the Rams’ rushing offense was predictably cranking against a really bad Broncos run D as well as the injuries.
In terms of the playcalls, Head Coach Sean McVay seemed unnecessarily committed to the passing game in the red zone and key 3rd down situations despite not getting much success out of them. And while it’s easy to criticize the decision, it’s the very thing that McVay has built his early reputation on. Given that he won the Coach of the Year in 2017 and has the Rams out to a 6-0 start, I’m not all that sure the criticism is entirely warranted. On top of which, there was criticism of the decision early on which was clearly levied more at the outcomes than the calls themselves. On the Rams’ first two possessions had they executed those plays better, those same fans making the complaints would have had no problems with the playcalls. Ultimately, things got worked out, but it probably took more time than necessary to get there.
On the injury front, this one was all over the place. EDGE Matt Longacre went out early with a back injury before WR Cooper Kupp looked to suffer a nasty knee and ankle injury as he was carted off. Surprisingly, he was able to come back out for the second half though, so he should be able to go next week. DL Michael Brockers was also hurt shortly thereafter, though he only missed a couple of plays. Maybe more worrisome overall were the departures of LG Rodger Saffold and LT Andrew Whitworth. While Whitworth was able to get back, his temporary departure left the Rams with no backup linemen with G Jamon Brown coming on for Saffold and rookie OL Joseph Noteboom temporarily replacing Big Whit. Suffice to say, the injury report on Wednesday is going to be of prime interest.
In the end, it’s what you might have expected from a frigid day on the road. It was ugly. It was physical. But impressively, the Rams gamed their way to a win en route to a 6-0 record. And while the game itself might not have impressed, the ability to manage some uncomfortable conditions and shaky play certainly did.