The bad news: the Minnesota Vikings beat up on the Detroit Lions, keeping their lead for the wildcard spot at one game. The good news? The Los Angeles Rams hosted the Seattle Seahawks with that information in hand and still played like a playoff team, winning against the Seahawks 28-12 in a week 14 smackdown.
Were there some cringe-worthy moments for the LA Rams as well as some amazing plays? Sure. There almost always is with every NFL team. But they played like a team that was solid on in all three phases.
Here’s the report card for each position:
The first half of the game was so great for QB Jared Goff that it felt like it was going to be the best game of the season. Then the second half happened. Those two interceptions were puzzling because they seemed like unnecessary chances that Goff was taking. HIs interception that was meant for WR Robert Woods was a miscommunication where Woods stopped his route, so hard to fault Goff too much on that one. The other one was a bomb to Cooks and was just a bad decision all around. However, Goff was electric for most of the game, going 22 for 31 with 293 yards, and two touchdowns.
This was a performance that was advertised all week. RB Todd Gurley II was going to get the rock and he did — 23 carries for 79 yards and one touchdown. Overall, the LA Rams ran for 162 yards with RB Malcolm Brown pitching in for 21 yards off of five carries, which also netted him a touchdown. I was impressed with Gurley’s aggressive running style — he was running like a dude that had something to prove. Angry Gurley is my favorite Gurley.
WR Cooper Kupp and Woods were great as always, playing crucial roles in the offense (and each of them ended up in the end zone). What was troubling was the involvement of WR Brandin Cooks, which brings their grade down. Zero catches off of two targets for a major part of the wide receiving corps could easily turn into a narrative this week — what’s wrong with Cooks? That drop he had was not a good look.
Man, talk about stepping up when another man goes down. TE Tyler Higbee has played lights out ever since TE Gerald Everett went down with an injury. Higbee’s dominant play was a clear highlight and is deserving of all the game balls. His 33-yard catch and run was a thing of beauty and kept the offense moving. HYGZ!!!
It’s no secret that the offensive line has had an up-and-down season that’s been riddled with injuries. Rookie OL Bobby Evans has stepped in at right tackle in place of OL Rob Havenstein and quite possibly stole his job. These guys kept Goff clean in the pocket and allowed him to go through his reads in a calm and orderly fashion.
It’s hard to say that a unit is “sneaky good” when DE Aaron Donald is part of that group. However, these guys just don’t get enough credit. The attention that was placed on Donald throughout the game allowed the linebackers to thrive. Donald was constantly double and triple teamed and he still had a fantastic game. The line kept the running game in check, keeping RB Chris Carson to 76 yards.
ILB Cory Littleton keeps getting more and more expensive this offseason with games like this. Again, Littleton showed that he’s a true leader on the field by just always being where the ball is. OLB Dante Fowler Jr. showed that he’s legit threat to the quarterback, chasing down QB Russell Wilson for a fantastic sack. Overall, this unit has come together at the perfect time.
My favorite play from CB Troy Hill wasn’t interception, but he “almost interception” that he nearly had when QB Russell Wilson tested him with a deep ball. The Seahawks were going after Hill and he stepped up to the challenge. S Taylor Rapp balled out again, proving that he’s a first-round talent taken in the second-round.
K Greg Zuerlein had a blocked kick and WR Nsimba Webster had -1 yards on his punt return. However, RB Darrell Henderson showed that he’s capable of lighting it up with 35 yards off of two returns.
The balance of the offense was exactly what the team needed and is further proof that even though Coach Sean McVay won’t admit it, Gurley was under load management earlier this season. The trick play with Kupp throwing to Higbee in the end zone, even though it didn’t work out, is exactly the kind of creativity that makes this team fun to watch.