Though the match was very much a rollercoaster ride with many ups and downs along the way, LA walked away 4-1 on the season and on the heels of the 4-0 Arizona Cardinals for first place in the division.
Los Angeles will take on the New York Giants next week after a long week of rest and preparation, but until then here are the thing we learned about the Rams in Week 5.
The Rams defense—the good, the bad, and the ugly
In the offense-centric league that is this generation’s NFL, only allowing a team 17 points should count as a win, especially with one of the better offenses playing on the same team, but something seemed off on Thursday for LA’s defense.
The Rams defense gave Russell Wilson his first interception of the season and also followed it up by intercepting Geno Smith to effectively end the game, Donald got his sack to become LA’s franchise leading sack monster and he was also the reason Wilson had to leave the game with a finger injury after getting some pressure on the QB.
But in the same game the Rams allowed Geno Smith to walk off the bench and on his first drive of the game lead his team 98 yards down the field and cap it off with a touchdown. It is one thing to pin Wilson at the two yard line and allow him to march down the field, but it just might be inexcusable to let the backup do it.
When Wilson was on the field the Rams just gave up to many big plays and that seems to be a weakness this year for Raheem Morris’ scheme. Tyler Lockett was running open all night and if it weren’t for some misplaced throws by Wilson the receiver could have walked away with at least three touchdowns in the game. Rookie Robert Rochell looked out of place multiple times and the Rams front was streaky, sometimes getting pressure while at other times allowing the Seahawks quarterbacks all day to throw.
After five games no one is sure of what the Rams defense actually is, but they are most definitely not last year’s top ranked defense. The good news? They might not have to be. When the Rams offense is hitting on all cylinders 17 points is nothing they can’t overcome.
Woods gets his breakout game of the season
If a tree falls in the Woods and everyone in Seattle is able to hear it, do they make a sound? The answer is no, because every time it appeared that the Seahawks had the Rams right where they wanted them Stafford found Woods for big gains and third down conversions all night, silencing the crowd at Lumen Field. Woods was making plenty of sound Thursday night, finishing the game with a season high 150 yards and 12 receptions.
The Matthew-Kupp connection was panning out to be one of the most dynamic duos in the NFL this season, but with the emergence of Woods against Seattle the Rams have become even more dangerous on offense. Against the Arizona Cardinals Stafford focused in on Kupp for most of the game with 13 targets but only five of those targets were actually caught as the Cardinals attempted to takeaway Stafford’s safety blanket. The plan was effective as LA could not get much going against them on offense.
Robert Woods had his first big game of the season as he collected 12 catches for 150 yards . It was only a matter of time for the fan favorite to breakout in 2021. Just like that Woods is now on pace for third 1000 yard season with LAR pic.twitter.com/lf1QYSNh7M— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) October 8, 2021
Fast forward four days and it suddenly became the Robert Woods show. LA has a pick-your-poison type of offense with weapons all over the place that can run any route and easily take the top off of the defense or beat you in the short and intermediate game. With Stafford just learning the ropes of McVay’s offense and still in the process of building rapport with anyone not named Cooper Kupp the lethality of the offense was reliant on Stafford finding Kupp. It would appear in Week 5 that is no longer the case.
If Stafford can pass the ball around and balance the air attack, opposing defenses are in for a very long game in the future.
The story of two tales—Stafford’s up and down night
The first half of Thursday’s game only yielded three points for LA’s offense as Stafford seemed to have carried his inaccuracy from last weekend’s game against the Cardinals. He also through possibly one of the most head scratching interceptions of the year. In the Rams first red zone appearance of the game Stafford broke away from the pocket when he felt pressure from his left while keeping his eyes down the field to possibly find someone open. With good coverage Stafford appeared to attempt to throw the ball away, but instead Quandre Diggs came away with the interception with a toe-tapping effort.
Matthew Stafford finds a wide open Quandre Diggs in the back of the end zone— PFF (@PFF) October 8, 2021
The second half Stafford though was much different. With an injured finger on his throwing arm he still was not perfect by any means but he was still able to get the ball to his receivers one way or another. On LA’s first touchdown drive of the game Stafford unleashed a bomb to Jackson for a 68 yard gain, but if it were not for Jackson’s last second adjustment on the ball it was relatively short and behind the speedy receiver. Luckily for Stafford, his inability to get Jackson the ball ahead of him may have saved another interception and led to a big gain for the Rams offense.
Desean Jackson is inevitable pic.twitter.com/hAloCsoxXJ— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) October 8, 2021
By the end of the game Stafford had done just enough to improve his game during the second half to lead his team to a win which is no easy task with the 12th man on the field at Lumen Field. He finished with 365 yards on 37 attempts, a touchdown, and an interception. The veteran QB is still learning McVay’s offense and building his rapport with his play makers, there should only be improvement as the season goes on.
Hekker is still a stud, a double punt, and Matt Gay’s sudden fall
That might have been one of the crazier special teams games of recent memories. On Thursday night we saw a double punt from Michael Dickson that is apparently not illegal?
Michael Dickson for President.#LARvsSEA #RamsHouse #Seahawks #TNF #ThursdayNightFootball #football #Touchdown #sportsbettor #sportsbetting #handicapper #sportsbook #FantasyFootball #NFL #bettingtwitter #SportsGamblingpic.twitter.com/0bSRheLLqq— JeffTillDeath (@JeffTillDeath94) October 8, 2021
We also saw Johnny Hekker do his thing and pin the the Seattle Seahawks at the two yard line on a beautiful special teams play that took precision from Hekker and the speed of rookie receiver Ben Skowronek to keep the ball out of the end zone.
That was the good. The bad was Matt Gay’s sudden incompetency as a kicker.
In the first possession of the third quarter the Rams finally started to look like the offense we had seen at the beginning of the year. Stafford found Jackson for a 68 yard gain and Henderson was able to do the rest, running it in for a five yard score. It was the first time the Rams had the lead and on the ensuing extra point Gay missed wide right, keeping the score 9-7.
Though the missed extra point did not matter by the end of the game it could have easily lost the game for LA if not for a defensive stand deep into the fourth quarter. That was not even the end of it either.
Following the missed field goal Gay’s kick went way left and out of bounds before passing through the end zone which gave Seattle optimal field position at the 40 yard line—and that didn’t happen once, it happened twice. In a close game those kind of mistakes could have led to disaster. Luckily for Gay Los Angeles walked away with a win, but a loss would have weighed on the kicker’s shoulders after leaving points on the field and handing the opposing team great field position twice.
Kickers are allowed to have bad games, but this one almost costed the Rams the win. He did somewhat makeup for his issues on the night after kicking the game sealer in the fourth quarter.
What did you learn on Thursday night? Let us know in the comments below!