The Rams’ 2020 season came to an end in the divisional round as they fell to the number one-seeded Packers by a score of 32-18. The defense wasn’t their usual selves as all-everything defensive tackle Aaron Donald was hobbled by the rib injury that kept him out of practice for most of this week and the secondary struggled to make Aaron Rodgers with two dropped interceptions in the end zone.
In rather surprising news, quarterback Jared Goff was efficient against Green Bay, finishing with a 78 percent completion rate and no turnovers. If you would have asked me what was the most-likely thing to derail the Rams in the divisional round, I would have pointed at Goff’s injury, but that was far from the case.
In the end, some guys stepped up and others didn’t. Below I highlighted the winners and losers from Saturday’s season-ending loss, so go dive right on.
QB Jared Goff
Statistics: 21-for-27 passing, 174 yards, one touchdown, no turnovers
There must have been something with those gloves worn by Goff because he looked lightyears better than he did just one week ago against the Seahawks. His throws had a nice amount of zip and he completed his fair share of passes with phenomenal placement. For a west coast quarterback who grew up playing in amazing weather his entire career, Goff handled the frigid air of Lambeau Field and finished with a a 78 completion percentage as he completed 21-of-27 passes in the night. He threw just one touchdown, but no turnovers is also something to feel positive about.
At the end of the day, this was the type of play from Goff that I would have said would have helped the Rams upset the Packers. Unfortunately, the other defense didn’t play the game they usually do against Rodgers and Co.
RB Cam Akers
Statistics: 18 carries, 90 yards, one touchdown, one receptions, six receiving yards
Two career postseason games, two productive performances for the second-round rookie out of Florida State. Combined, Akers has rushed for a total of 221 yards and two touchdowns across the last two games. Alongside Goff, Akers was one of the lone players keeping the Rams in the ball game at all. He averaged an even five yards per carry and even had a few nifty plays out of the wildcat formation, including his lone touchdown of the night.
Despite the loss, Akers has set himself up to be the team’s lead back heading into the 2021 season. The lack of carries and touches for anyone else in the running back room was very apparent, so it doesn’t look like the fan base will have to suffer through a RBBC (running back by committee) next year.
DC Brandon Staley
Statistics: Allowed 484 yards of offense, 32 total points, two passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns
Maybe his mind was wrapped up in all the head coaching interviews, or maybe the moment was just too big for him, but Staley and the entire defense failed to show up in the most important game of the Rams’ season.
Yes, Aaron Donald was playing through torn rib cartilage and wasn’t nearly his normal self, but the NFL’s number one defense is not a one-man show. And if we’re being honest, the Rams’ unit was a better defense than the Packers were as an offense.
This unit will come back mostly intact in 2021 which is a huge point of optimism, but Staley is likely moving on to lead a new team next season.
Interior Offensive Line
Statistics: Allowed 3.5 sacks
They were missing a starter in left guard David Edwards, so it’s not overly surprising that they struggled against the likes of Kenny Clark (2.5 sacks) among others. The Packers tried to utilize their front lines length and athleticism from start to finish and it just ended up being too much for Goff who had immense difficulty navigating the amount of murky pockets. On passing downs, Green Bay moved edge rusher Za’Darius Smith inside to exploit Evans and it worked like a charm as Smith flew by Evans without much resistance. Of course, the Rams offensive line is hamstrung by Goff’s lack of athleticism, but this was just an unfortunate outing in what should have been everyone’s best game.