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Rams-Seahawks: The o-line earns high grades in all areas

Andrew Whitworth, Brian Allen, and company take on Seattle’s front-seven

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks 26-17 on Thursday Night Football. Though Matthew Stafford and company started slow, the offensive line helped lead a 23 point burst in the second half, proving too much for the division rivals.

The front five certainly had their hands full facing an energized group of play makers on Seattle’s defense, but there was one in particular that the offensive line had to key on, based on his production thus far this season.

Pass Protection: B+

Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein had the most important job in pass protection against the Seahawks. As previously mentioned, the most significant aspect of protecting Matthew Stafford against Seattle started with locating and blocking defensive end Darrell Taylor. Unfortunately, Taylor did get to Stafford for a sack early in the contest. However, he was being blocked by tight end Tyler Higbee, not the offensive line.

For the second straight week, the big men upfront did not allow a single sack. That effort in itself is going to go a long way in Los Angeles winning a bunch of games this season.

However, playing devil’s advocate, Stafford was under pressure a bit much against the Seahawks. I noticed him getting hit after quite a few throws. It will be interesting to see the official number of pressures and hits once those advanced stats are published.

Penalties: A-

While the Rams offensive line wasn’t credited with a single penalty against Seattle, they did have a bit of a communication breakdown. L.A. found themselves facing a third and five near midfield, a few plays after an interception by Troy Reeder, when the offense was called for a delay of game.

Linebackers Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks showed interior pressure but bailed out with only three seconds left on the play clock. Stafford was calling for the snap, notifying right guard Austin Corbett to communicate to the center to snap the ball, as most teams do while operating silent count principles.

Unfortunately Brian Allen was resetting the pass protection to account for less potential blitzers, and he did not snap the ball. That penalty changed third and five to third and 10, which the Rams then called a give up run play near midfield, negating great field position. Credit the defense for the trickery, but Allen probably shouldn’t try to reset the protection in under three seconds in such a hostile environment.

Run Blocking: A

The Rams front five also opened up rushing lanes for both Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel, allowing the duo to collect 119 yards on 28 carries and two rushing touchdowns. The duo ran efficiently, averaging 4.25 yards per carry.

Henderson led the way, averaging an impressive 4.8 per yards per carry. I would have loved to see what his final numbers would have been had he not got banged up in the second quarter. My fantasy team would have loved it too.

The best way to stop the run game is quick penetration straight up the field. This may be twice as true versus an offense whose success in the run game is predicated on getting the defense running side to side.

Left guard David Edwards found this out the hard way, as defensive tackle Al Woods knifed up field, shedding Edwards’ block attempt on the way to tackle Sony Michel for a one yard loss on third and one, forcing a field goal to end a 14 play drive. While this was a very unfortunate time and situation for the whiff, L.A.’s offensive line played well in the run game.

The Rams offensive line will look to continue their exceptional play against the New York Giants, who allow 122 rushing yards per game, while only sacking opposing quarterbacks six times this year. Time for the big guys to eat!

Prompt: How would you grade the offensive line through the first five games?