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The Good, the Bad and the Difference

Or the Good, the Bad and the DEFENSE

Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

There were a few times this season when this column was mostly bad for the LA Rams, including several right before the playoffs started. At times like that, it was hard to imagine that the team would have a playoff win with well more good than bad but the Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks 30-20 on Saturday and allowed only 11 first downs.

We’ve praised the defense so much this season that it can be hard to forget that they allowed an average of 24 first downs per contest over the first three games of the season. But the Rams have allowed an average of only 13.6 first downs over the last five games and they’ve allowed more than 20 only once since the end of September.

The LA defense continues to assert itself as the best in the NFL — good enough to overcome not only any quarterback they face, but any quarterback that Sean McVay is willing to start on offense — and the Rams have won a playoff game following an offseason in which many said that would be impossible. They did it against a Seattle team that many were calling “the best” headed into the season but that praise is all but a memory now.

“The Good” resides with the Rams this week.

The Good

Aaron Donald sacks Russell Wilson

Aaron Donald sacks Russell Wilson with Morgan Fox

Leonard Floyd sacks Russell Wilson

Leonard Floyd sacks Russell Wilson again

The Rams sacked Russell Wilson five times and probably could have gotten him at least three or four more times if not for Seattle holding. Even when Donald left with injury, LA’s defensive line was destroying this battle.

John Johnson sends message to DK Metcalf

The message was that LA’s defense was going to win the game.

Cooper Kupp gains 44 yards on a catch

Sean McVay let Jared Goff rip it here and thankfully Kupp came down with the ball when he basically “rupped it” instead.

Darious Williams picks off Russell Wilson, scores a touchdown

Darious Williams is the Leonard Floyd of cornerbacks when it comes to owning Russell Wilson. This was his third pick off of Wilson this year. It made it apparent that the Rams not only don’t fear Wilson, they cherish the opportunities to play against him. It seemed so perfect, almost as if the Rams had called that play for Wilson.

Cam Akers gains 44 yards on a catch

Copying Cooper.

Cam Akers scores a touchdown to make it 20-10

Many criticized the Rams for releasing Todd Gurley and using their first pick on a running back. I do not think the Rams would be in the playoffs were it not for Akers, let alone moving onto the divisional round. Los Angeles emerged out of a difficult offseason with a lot to be proud about.

Rams get big third down stop

There were a lot of big third down stops by the Rams this weekend.

Sideline for Robert Woods

Robert Woods doesn’t get his named call a lot sometimes, but when he does, good stuff has usually happened.

Samson Ebukam forces fumble on D.J. Reed’s punt return

It was rough to not get a first down on the previous play but Seattle made it not so rough only seconds later. It’s amazing what a punt returner will risk for an extra five or six yards sometimes — but then again, the Seahawks had a low chance of scoring offensively.

Jared Goff throws touchdown pass to Robert Woods

Goff was limited, but not too limited. I expected him to start if he was able to play as he did on Saturday — not able to do everything, but able to do enough to help those around him. McVay didn’t agree and Goff didn’t start but once he was forced into action, Cam Akers settled in and the Rams never struggled in holding their lead after the Darious Williams interception.

The Bad

John Wolford neck injury on hit by Jamal Adams

Adams drew a flag on the play initially, but oddly it was picked up by refs. There were a number of odd things done by the crew in this game.

Jared Goff sacked by Jarran Reed on first pass attempt

Russell Wilson escapes for touchdown to DK Metcalf

One of the only times that the Seahawks had any semblance of an offense and it came on a bit of a busted play.

Jarran Reed sacks Jared Goff for second time

Reed sacked Goff four times in the last two games against the Rams, but there wasn’t much pressure coming from anywhere else on Seattle’s roster on Saturday.

Aaron Donald leaves with ribs injury

There was no update on Donald’s status as of Saturday night.

Cooper Kupp left with knee injury

Luckily in Kupp’s case, there was good news.

The Difference

Before focusing on what game comes next, don’t forget to take stock of how special Saturday’s outcome really is. The Rams didn’t win a playoff game from 1952 to 1973, or from 1990 to 1998, and they only won a single playoff game from 2002 to 2017. This was the franchise’s 22nd postseason win ever, so let it sink in before LA prepares to win number 23 next weekend.

Against the Seattle Seahawks, there are a number of things that could have been the difference. The selection of Cam Akers in the draft appears to have been the right choice and he’s potentially going to be the best at his position in the whole class. The decision to fire Wade Phillips and hire Brandon Staley could be the move of the offseason — for any team. The dominance of Leonard Floyd and Darious Williams against Russell Wilson showed up again on Saturday.

My pick is going to come down to the way that the Rams defensive line manhandled the Seahawks’ offensive line and forced Wilson into one of his worst career playoff performances. So therefore, one of his worst games period.

If you had to name one individual as being “The Difference” though, who would it be?

Poll

Who was the DIFFERENCE on Saturday?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Cam Akers
    (250 votes)
  • 2%
    Sean McVay
    (22 votes)
  • 29%
    Brandon Staley
    (223 votes)
  • 2%
    Jared Goff
    (18 votes)
  • 16%
    Aaron Donald
    (126 votes)
  • 6%
    Darious Williams
    (47 votes)
  • 2%
    Leonard Floyd
    (17 votes)
  • 6%
    Andrew Whitworth
    (49 votes)
752 votes total Vote Now