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Los Angeles Rams at Pittsburgh Steelers: Matchups to watch revisited

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The game didn’t go as well as anyone hoped. Let’s revisit the matchups to watch.

Los Angeles Rams v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams came out of the bye week with an incredibly weak offensive performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. Ultimately, the Rams lost the contest by a score of 17-12, sending them to 5-4 and widening the gap to an NFC playoff spot.

Let’s revisit the matchups to watch:

DT Aaron Donald versus RG David DeCastro

Last week’s matchup to watch:

Donald returns to his home for the first time as he hails from Pittsburgh and played college ball there (Pitt Panthers). The expectation is that the leagues best player will want to put on a show in his hometown, but it’ll have to come at the hands of one of the best interior offensive lineman in the league in DeCastro. Donald is a certainty for a handful of big plays every game, but this extra motivation may push him to craft the best game he’s ever played.

Returning to his hometown, Donald put together an awesome performance that netted five tackles, 0.5 sacks, a safety, and two tackles-for-loss. The defense as a whole played very well, allowing only 10 points in the contest. The defensive line also did an incredible job limiting the Steelers’ rushing attack as all Pittsburgh runners averaged less than 2.2 yards-per-carry.

RT Rob Havenstein versus EDGE T.J. Watt

Last week’s matchup to watch:

Watt — just like his brother J.J. — is a superstar, but in a different sense. T.J. is a more athletic and speedier/lighter player than his brother. Watt is up to 7.5 sacks on the season with 31 combined pressures, which tops the league. He’ll have a ton of reps against Havenstein on the right side, and that feels like a clear advantage to the Steelers in this instance. Big Hav will need to return to 2018 form, simply so the offense isn’t derailed due to a lack of time for QB Jared Goff.

Havenstein continued his 2019 regression as Watt routinely got the better of him in pass protection. Watt registered five tackles, two sacks, and one tackle-for-loss. Havenstein also got injured late in the contest and was replaced by rookie David Edwards. His lack of consistency and regression is shocking.

WR Cooper Kupp versus CB’s Mike Hilton/Cameron Sutton

Last week’s matchup to watch:

The Steelers like to deploy two players in the nickel. The first is Hilton, who they prefer to use in run support, but especially as a blitzer because he might be the leagues best blitzing DB. When in passing situations, they trot out Sutton as he’s the superior coverage defender. Regardless of who’s in coverage, neither stands much of a chance when covering Kupp one-on-one as the Rams’ safety blanket has taken the next step into stardom post-ACL injury.

In absolute shocking fashion, Kupp did not register a single reception or statistic on his four targets. Only one target seemed to give Kupp a realistic chance at a reception, but he simply dropped the pass by taking his eyes off the ball too quickly. The Rams need to find a way to include their best offensive weapon moving forward.

Rams RB’s versus ILB Devin Bush

Last week’s matchup to watch:

The rookie linebacker has been a weapon in the run game and a source of big plays for the Steelers, but he’s struggled mightily in coverage. The Rams don’t use their running back trio of Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, and Darrell Henderson very much in the pass game, but they should test the waters against the rookie early and often.

The Rams actually made somewhat of an attempt to get Gurley the ball as a receiver, though nothing ever materialized as the connection between he and Goff looked completely off. Gurley was targeted four times — majority of which were simple dump-offs — and none were pulled in.

CB Jalen Ramsey versus WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

Last week’s matchup to watch:

JuJu may not suit up in this one as his foot injury has rendered him a limited participant in practice, but he’s the Steelers’ best offensive player and should be shadowed by Ramsey if he does play. JuJu isn’t a burner and has lacked the same explosive plays he became known for in his first two years (probably due to QB), but he’s still a very capable weapon who plays with a ton of physicality. Ramsey won’t back down from anyone, making this one of the more intriguing matchups for football lovers.

Ramsey had an up-and-down contest, but ultimately had a decent performance against one of the best young receivers in football. Ramsey didn’t exclusively cover JuJu, but the Steelers’ best player was limited to only three receptions for 44 yards. Ramsey did have a rather sizable pass interference called against him.