The Los Angeles Rams are in the NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints. Overcoming the fire hot and trendy upset pick of the Dallas Cowboys with a dominant rushing effort, the Rams have won their first playoff game since the 2004 season.
Coming into the game, many “experts” were expecting an easy game for the Cowboys rushing attack led by RB Ezekiel Elliott while leaning on the strong front seven to try and pull off the upset. Let’s just say the Cowboys were in for a rude surprise.
QB Dak Prescott
If any player impressed on the Cowboys offense, it was QB Dak Prescott. Prescott finished the game with 266 yards passing (20/32) with a touchdown while also rushing for another. Prescott had a QB rating of 83.6, indicating that he had a strong game. In the end, it still wasn’t enough as the Rams defense did enough.
I still can’t get over that time La’el Collins picked up Dak Prescott last night pic.twitter.com/6QeAVxlV2S— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) January 13, 2019
Perhaps the most controversial play of the game, the Rams benefited from a “sack” as Dak was ruled to be “in the grasp”.
CB Chidobe Awuzie
The younger cornerback for the Cowboys was busy with six tackles and a pass defended. Coming into the game, many thought the Rams might try to exploit Awuzie instead of trying to run against the front seven led by Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Considering the Rams dominant effort on the run, Awuzie’s impact was minimized a bit.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
Everyone was banking on Ezekiel Elliott to have a big game against the Rams suspect defense. Instead, the Rams defense buckled down and limited Elliott to 47 yards rushing.
Ezekiel Elliott, meet Dante Fowler Jr. pic.twitter.com/vU2l2We2eY— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) January 13, 2019
From the beginning of the game, it felt like the Rams were really going to key on Elliott and make him earn every yard. Zeke managed to get in the endzone eventually while also adding 19 yards receiving on two catches (five targets).
LB Leighton Vander Esch
After coming into the game with all the hype in the world, the rookie was actually taken out of the game multiple times. In the end, Vander Esch only finished with four total tackles and was constantly subbed in and out for veteran Sean Lee (who finished with seven total tackles). Many people were wondering why Lee, who hadn’t played much the previous week, was getting most of the reps in crunch time. Ultimately, the linebacker group as a whole was a disappointment for Dallas as the Rams ran roughshod with 273 yards rushing and three touchdowns for the game.
WR Amari Cooper
Cooper made his impact early and often against the Rams. After the Rams had taken the opening offensive drive for points with a field goal, the Cowboys leaned on the Prescott to Cooper connection to score the game’s first touchdown.
Cooper would be targeted nine times to catch six passes for 65 yards (and the above touchdown). He and Michael Gallup were both the main targets in the passing game as Gallup actually ended up with significantly more yards (119). Overall, with a playoff victory for the franchise, it’s hard to argue about the draft capital used to acquire Cooper in Dallas.