The Los Angeles Rams have not only punched in their ticket for a playoff appearance, but after a 20-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, they are also just half a game behind the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West division race. Despite uncertainty following a week shadowed by Covid-19, head coach Sean McVay had his team ready to contend in a low-scoring, defensive bout. Here is how it all went down.
After receiving the opening kickoff of the game, a balanced mixture of Sony Michel and an accurate Matthew Stafford had the Rams offense marching down the field. After passing midfield, however, mistakes made by the offensive line halted any chance of getting into the redzone. A questionable third-and-10 run play ended the drive, but a 5 yard penalty enforced after a Johnny Hekker punt led to a 55 yard field goal from potential pro-bowler Matt Gay.
The Seahawks first possession lasted just nine plays. After DK Metcalf picked on a smaller David Long Jr. for a first down, Aaron Donald ended any momentum gained when he absolutely wrecked a screen play on third down.
The second possession for the Rams offense started on the 12 yard line following the punt. Stafford found Ben Skowronek for a 18 yard gain on a third-and-10 to keep the drive alive deep in his own territory.
Score: Rams 3, Seahawks 0
On the Seahawks 32 yard line, Stafford was looking deep for Cooper Kupp but found Quandre Diggs instead—his second interception against Stafford this season.
Put the ball near @qdiggs6 at your own risk. ⚠️— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) December 22, 2021
#SEAvsLAR on FOX pic.twitter.com/imKw1rCJdo
The defense bailed out the offense on the ensuing Seattle possession. On a third-and-11, Von Miller got his first sack as a Ram and forced the Seahawk offense off of the field.
Fearsome in 4️⃣0️⃣.— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) December 22, 2021
@NFLonFOX | @VonMiller pic.twitter.com/4Hca5WetqV
After a back-and-forth defensive battle between the two NFC West teams, Stafford and company finally got things going with a 42 yard pass to Kupp that converted a third-and-17. Following the long gain, LA was stuffed by the Seahawks defense. McVay elected to go for it on a fourth-and-2, leading to a turnover-on-downs.
Seattle would then get its offense moving with just 1:56 left to go in the half. Wilson found Gerald Everett on a wobbly pass that not even the camera crew could track down that ended in a 34 yard gain. Much like the Rams possession, the long gain would not lead to much. With just 10 seconds left in the first half, Seahawk kicker Jakobi Meyers put his team on the board with a 39 yard field goal.
Score: Rams 3, Seahawks 3
The Seahawks were the first team to punch the ball in for a touchdown. Their first possession of the second half ended with a 14 play drive that featured a smash-mouth running attack. Seattle bullied the Rams defensive line and ended their drive with a four yard rush by DeeJay Dallas.
DeeJay Dallas pushes through for 6️⃣ #Seahawks pic.twitter.com/6cu3ZgaolL— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) December 22, 2021
Los Angeles would have an answer on their next possession. Stafford found Kupp for a 32 yard pass, then Michel followed it up with a tough 39 yard rush. Two plays later, the veteran QB found his favorite target once again on a six yard pass for the touchdown.
.@CooperKupp broke the franchise receptions record with a TD. Of course he did.— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) December 22, 2021
For all the defensive plays made at this point of the game, it may have been Donte Deayon’s pass breakup on a third-and-4 may have been the highlight of the match. Wilson went long on a pass intended for D’Wayne Eskridge, Deayon went up high to break up the pass and give LA another chance on offense.
Score: Rams 10, Seahawks 10
Three punts later by both teams, Los Angeles would make its biggest offensive statement of the night. Starting at their own 12 yard line, the offense was bailed out by a questionable defensive holding play on a third-and-12. Stafford took advantage of the opportunity with a 24 yard screen play to Michel. Four plays later, Kupp took a 29 yard pass to the house for his second touchdown of the night.
We've said it, and we'll say it again. That 9️⃣➡️ connection is SPECIAL.— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) December 22, 2021
@NFLonFOX | @CooperKupp pic.twitter.com/Jc7ow9FI6s
While Aaron Donald will get a ton of credit for wrecking the game, Jalen Ramsey was also terrific when delivering during crucial moments. Following the score, Donald sacked Wilson on the ensuing drive for an 11 yard loss. Then, on a third-and-14, Ramsey was able to breakup a pass to Metcalf on a one-on-one situation, forcing yet another punt for Seattle.
Just a reminder that @jalenramsey is the best corner in the league.— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) December 22, 2021
The night would continue to be a up-and-down rollercoaster for LA’s offense. Stafford would suffer his fourth sack of the night, leading to a three-and-out for the Rams.
Despite not practicing all week, the defense for Los Angeles came to play. They constantly bailed the offense out on a night they were not at their best. On a fourth-and-5, the pass rush forced an underthrown pass to Dallas with Ernest Jones in coverage. The play could have easily been called for a pass interference, but instead was a turnover-on-downs.
Taylor Rapp finished the game with an interception.
Final Score: Rams 20, Seahawks 10