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.
Aaron Donald sacks Russell Wilson
Aaron Donald sacks Russ AGAIN.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 9, 2021
Aaron Donald sacks Russell Wilson with Morgan Fox
Another one for @AaronDonald97 pic.twitter.com/RNVZug9PMW— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 9, 2021
Leonard Floyd sacks Russell Wilson
Leonard Floyd pic.twitter.com/VE9S8yx0hs— Dawg Post Recruiting (@UgaRecruitNews) January 9, 2021
Leonard Floyd sacks Russell Wilson again
Leonard Floyd sacks Russell Wilson for 5-yd loss #Rams 30 #Seahawks 20 Q4 pic.twitter.com/jYFLLKbeTt— Sports ②④x⑦ (@B_R_R_D) January 10, 2021
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
DK Metcalf gets BLOWN UP #LARvsSEA pic.twitter.com/hVonQQxUmm— Slightly Biased (@BiasedSlightly) January 9, 2021
The message was that LA’s defense was going to win the game.
Cooper Kupp gains 44 yards on a catch
This Cooper Kupp snag on Jamal Adams— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 9, 2021
(via @thecheckdown) pic.twitter.com/qGbf8HsoKR
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 PICK-6 #RamsHouse— NFL (@NFL) January 9, 2021
: #LARvsSEA on FOX
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/eO7M1HRW6M pic.twitter.com/Qlikkil8ll
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
44 yards for the rookie Cam Akers #RamsHouse— NFL (@NFL) January 9, 2021
: #LARvsSEA on FOX
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/eO7M1HRW6M pic.twitter.com/X3SAilOzZN
Cam Akers scores a touchdown to make it 20-10
The Rams have 196 yards.— Overtime (@overtime) January 9, 2021
Cam Akers has 122
Rams extend their lead (via @NFL)
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
this Rams defense IS NUTS #LARvsSEA pic.twitter.com/KLEo0LRupf— Slightly Biased (@BiasedSlightly) January 9, 2021
There were a lot of big third down stops by the Rams this weekend.
Sideline for Robert Woods
Belíssima recepção de Robert Woods! #RamsHouse #NFLnaESPN #NFLBrasil pic.twitter.com/y8mZdW1Ht2— NFL Brasil (@NFLBrasil) January 10, 2021
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
DeeJay Reed sofre o fumble e a bola vai ser dos @RamsNFL! #RamsHouse #NFLBrasil pic.twitter.com/sys4GWyyoj— NFL Brasil (@NFLBrasil) January 10, 2021
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
TOUCHDOWN, RAMS! #RamsHouse— NFL Brasil (@NFLBrasil) January 10, 2021
Após o play action, Goff encontra Woods absolutamente LIVRE e a equipe de LA abre 17 pontos de vantagem! #NFLnaESPN #NFLBrasil pic.twitter.com/FKpfj9o626
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.
John Wolford neck injury on hit by Jamal Adams
John Wolford is down after this hit from Jamal Adams.— PFF (@PFF) January 9, 2021
Jared Goff warming up...
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
Jared Goff sacked by Jarren Reed.— AJ McCord (@AJ_McCord) January 9, 2021
Rams FG is good
Rams 3, #Seahawks 0 w/3:56 to go in Q1
Russell Wilson escapes for touchdown to DK Metcalf
RUSS & DK BACK AT IT.— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) January 9, 2021
Great play by Russell Wilson that results in a DIME TD pass 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
COME GRAMA, Jared Goff! #Seahawks #NFLnaESPN #NFLBrasil pic.twitter.com/fYVVR2JBzO— NFL Brasil (@NFLBrasil) January 9, 2021
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
Mike Iupati is barely a speed bump for Aaron Donald pic.twitter.com/nl5ZSf9m9A— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) January 9, 2021
Aaron Donald was slow to get up after that last drive. pic.twitter.com/waAW4aXIRd— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 9, 2021
There was no update on Donald’s status as of Saturday night.
Cooper Kupp left with knee injury
All indications are nothing major for #Rams WR Cooper Kupp. Knee contusion. Should be fine.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 10, 2021
Luckily in Kupp’s case, there was good news.
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?
Who was the DIFFERENCE on Saturday?
This poll is closed