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The Good, the Bad and the Difference

Maybe in this case: The good, the bad and the DEFENSE

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

What else does a non-quarterback need to do to win MVP? If Aaron Donald isn’t atop the conversation now, then the award has no meaning other than recognizing the NFL’s best quarterback.

Isn’t that what all-pro is for?

Facing the NFL’s number one ranked offense in scoring, passing yards and passing touchdowns, the Los Angeles Rams held the Seattle Seahawks to 13 points and 333 total yards in Sunday’s 23-16 win at home. Russell Wilson, once a leading candidate for midseason MVP honors because of 28 touchdowns through nine games, was held without a touchdown pass for the first time since facing the Rams in Week 14 of last season.

Wilson has thrown a touchdown pass in 28 of his last 30 games. The only times he hasn’t have been against Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and the LA Rams.

Donald finished with zero tackles and two QB hits this week, but anyone who would tell you that he isn’t the best player on the Rams is either lying or ignorant. Anyone who says that he isn’t the best defensive player in the NFL bears the burden of proof. And anyone who says he isn’t in the conversation as the best all-around player in the league will be met with furrowed brows or boos.

The Seahawks had scored at least 27 points in every game this season but scored only one touchdown against LA. Their second half drives went: Punt, Punt, Fumble, Interception and a forced field goal only because Seattle wanted to give themselves time for an onside kick attempt.

The Rams entered the game second in points and yards allowed, second in passing yards allowed and first in net yards per pass attempt allowed. Met with skepticism because of facing the NFC East’s busted carousel of QBs, LA answered by shutting down the NFL’s top passing attack this side of Patrick Mahomes.

And with this week in the books, it seems like Mahomes will be in the lead for MVP. Probably not Aaron Donald. Not because he doesn’t deserve it though.

Maybe the voters don’t deserve him.

The Good

Jared Goff to Cooper Kupp for 31 yards

Jared Goff to Tyler Higbee for 39 yards

This was a career-long reception for Higbee, who finished with 60 yards. Goff hit Higbee for another first down, then Gerald Everett to setup Henderson’s touchdown run.

Jared Goff wasn’t bad this week but few expected him to be against Seattle’s porous pass defense. It was as giving as most thought it would be.

Darrell Henderson gives the Rams the lead back

Malcolm Brown extends the lead to 17-7

This was the closest thing we’ve seen to a three-headed attack at running back all season. It worked just fine and they took care of the job near the end zone.

Darious Williams intercepts Russell Wilson in the end zone

This might be the type of play that a quarterback attempts to make when he’s busy buying into the hype that he’s the most valuable player in the league. With a first down (and probably more) in front of him, Wilson threw the ball into coverage and Williams is too athletic, too good around the football for a quarterback to test him like this. The “MVP” move would have been to ditch the play design and improvise with what the Rams were giving him. Maybe the MVP was the guy putting pressure on him.

Terrell Lewis’ first TWO career sacks

Lewis is the first Rams rookie to record two sacks in a game since Chris Long in 2008.

Aaron Donald’s MVP performance against an MVP candidate

This may have been a completion and a first down for Seattle in the example above, but it’s not exactly what an offense is hoping for every play. That’s because Donald was forcing Wilson into bad throws, poor decisions and wrecking the top-ranked offense’s chances for touchdowns time after time in the first half. I don’t have a lot of Donald “highlights” for today but moments like that one above typically turn out bad for QBs and we saw that transpire on Sunday.

Josh Reynolds has a career day

Some Rams who I expected to have better days than usual included Brown, Lewis and Reynolds, who had five catches for 47 yards in the first half. He finished with career-highs in both catches and yards.

Malcolm Brown touchdown is the exclamation point on 88-yard drive

Obviously, Kai Forbath wasn’t going to deliver the punctuation on this one. On a drive that started with first and 18 because of a Reynolds holding penalty, LA converted third and 13 to Reynolds; then third and 5 to Robert Woods; then third and 2 from the SEA 4 on a defensive pass interference penalty by Seattle’s D.J. Reed on Gerald Everett.

Leonard Floyd sack x3

Floyd’s seven sacks this season ties his career high, which came as a rookie with the Chicago Bears. He is the first Rams player with three sacks in a game since ... TROY REEDER!

Jalen Ramsey on DK Metcalf

Metcalf was held to nine yards on one target prior to an early fourth quarter bomb from Wilson that fell maybe one inch shy of being a touchdown. That was the closest that Metcalf came to getting an advantage against Ramsey, who shut him down entirely otherwise. On the next play, Wilson turned it over on a fumble.

Metcalf finished with 28 yards, his second-lowest total of the season.

Floyd fumble recovery

Darious Williams does it again

Darious Williams now has four interceptions on the season and getting two off of Wilson is a huge boon on his resume. Williams will be a restricted free agent in 2021 and he’s exactly the complement you want alongside Ramsey. Williams has six interceptions in his last 11 starts.

Michael Brockers sack

Not to be left out, Brockers added his third sack of the season by getting to Wilson late in the game. It was the sixth time that the Rams had taken down Wilson. Brockers has three sacks this season after posting three in all of 2019 and only one in 2018. This is a legitimately scary pass rush now, but it is worth noting that Seattle’s offensive line played poorly also and was down to some depth guys on the interior, like Jamarco Jones and Kyle Fuller.

The Bad

No touchdown at first and 10 at the Seattle 11

The Rams nearly got zero points on the first drive when Kai Forbath’s 23-yard attempt almost sailed left. They should have found a way to score seven (or six) though given how bad Seattle’s defense is.

Seahawks have an easy 78-yard touchdown drive for 7-3 lead

This would be the Seahawks only touchdown of the day.

Jared Goff stripped by Jamal Adams

Jamal Adams left the game early, then returned and had two sacks.

Andrew Whitworth injury

Taylor Rapp injury

Missed extra point by Kai Forbath, injury

You can read / comment on LA’s injury woes from Sunday in our injury update post.

The Difference

The Rams have the NFL’s best defense and as we saw, that’s better than having the NFL’s best passing attack. There was no Russ-to-DK on Sunday and there was barely anything else either after that became apparent. The difference is that the Rams have Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams and Leonard Floyd and Terrell Lewis and Robert—

The difference is that the Rams are the better team today. Can they be the best team in the NFC West over the next seven “today”’s? That’s what we will find out next.