After the terrible loss to the Baltimore Ravens, things were looking very dire for the Los Angeles Rams — was their season lost? While the dominating 34-7 Week 13 win on the road against the Arizona Cardinals doesn’t exactly put them in playoff contention, it was a welcome salve to Rams fans.
So, what about the performances? Well, let’s get to the report card:
A lot has been said about QB Jared Goff this season and most of it has been discouraging. There’s been talk of trying to trade him or at least use him as the scapegoat for any problems that the team comes across in the foreseeable future. But for one game in Glendale, Arizona, Goff reminded fans that he still has the talent and poise that he showed during the last two seasons. With a 120.7 QBR, Goff threw for 424 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. He was playing loose and comfortable, as if he’d forgotten about last week’s loss and was just having fun out there.
19 carries for RB Todd Gurley II is pretty solid. Given that he averaged five yards per carry, it was surprising to see that he racked up 95 yards when his longest was 11 yards. He was just efficient and present in the offense. That’s what fans want to see out of this offense — for Gurley to be part of the attack and not just a decoy. It was nice to see that RB Malcolm Brown was actually part of the running game as well, getting six carries for 30 yards. RB Darrell Henderson Jr. was also in the mix in garbage time. More of this please.
WR Robert Woods might be the most underrated pass catcher in the NFL. The dude blocks like his life depends on it. WR Cooper Kupp got a touchdown reception, but it was Woods that was the heart and soul of the offense this Sunday. There is just so much talent with this unit that even a two reception performance by WR Brandin Cooks was fine.
Holy crap! Finally, TE Tyler Higbee showed up and showed Rams fans why he has this pretty generous contract. Besides being Goff’s BFF, Higbee showed that he can be on a monster in the passing game. Maybe it was TE Gerald Everett’s absence that made him step up with the spotlight solely on him (apologies to the good ol’ Johnny Mundt). Higbee’s touchdown pass was one of my favorite plays of the season. He was simply awesome. HYGZ!
If it wasn’t for the penalties, their grade would be higher. OL David Edwards still needs to tighten up his game to prevent costly penalties, but overall, the line protected Goff and allowed the run game to thrive.
The Cardinals running game was kept in check with only 74 yards between three guys, including QB Kyler Murray. This could have been a disaster, considering how QB Lamar Jackson played last week against the Rams. NT Sebastian Joseph-Day showed off his rad dance moves and showed that he belongs on the line with DE Aaron Donald and DE Michael Brockers.
A very productive day for the linebackers as well. Guys like LB Dante Fowler Jr. proved that they can get to the quarterback and apply pressure. And ILB Troy Reeder has been a pleasant surprise, always near the action.
They didn't get beaten and S Taylor Rapp was able to score on an amazing pick 6. It’s been a rough month for this unit, so this game was a welcome sight for all involved.
They weren’t needed that much during the game, but they must be docked for K Greg Zuerlein’s missed field goal. Maybe a B- is too harsh, but I’m grading on the curve! I don’t know, man. Get off my back. The Rams won!
What was great to see from Coach Sean McVay was his play calling that still showed confidence in Goff, but also implemented a rushing attack. It was a balanced game that reminded fans why this team is so good.
Did the team play so well because the Cardinals are so bad? Possibly. But a regular season is all about momentum and confidence and this was definitely a game that the Rams can build upon.