It was Matthew Stafford’s laser-like touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp that broke open a tight game and gave the Los Angeles Rams the lift they needed to defeat the Seattle Seahawks 20-10 on Tuesday night.
But who was the real target, Kupp or Odell Beckham Jr.?
Setting the stage
In the first half, the Rams had dominated Seattle, doubling them up in total yardage and time of possession. But LA couldn’t get across the goal line and had to settle for a 3-3 tie.
After the the intermission, the Seahawks received the kickoff and on an 85 yard drive, snatched the lead, The Rams would answer with a touchdown of their own and the third quarter ended with the rivals knotted up 10-10.
The big play
At the 10:55 mark of the fourth quarter, LA was driving. A 24 yard screen pass to Sony Michel highlighted a mix of runs and throws had moved the Rams into Seahawk territory.
On first down from the Seattle 29, Stafford set to pass out of an empty backfield, five-wide set. The left side of the ‘Hawks defensive line used a twist and DT Al Woods barreled around the edge into the quarterback’s face.
Staff held his ground and bulleted the the ball into a tight window. Kupp made the grab and scored untouched.
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
Was the pass intended for OBJ?
One of the main principles of Sean McVay’s passing offense is the layering of routes. This play was a perfect example. Kupp and Beckham Jr. were both lined up in the slot on opposite sides and both ran similar patterns, deep post/crossing routes. Attacking inside the seams is the way to neutralize a two-deep coverage scheme.
On the replay, notice that OBJ is running uncovered on the same plane as Kupp, but five yards deeper. Stafford’s pass would have hit him squarely on target as well. Both Kupp and Beckham Jr. had advantageous coverage mismatches, with linebackers Jordyn Brooks and Bobby Wagner lined up on them. Brooks actually had good coverage on Kupp but Wagner was beaten badly by OBJ.
It really doesn’t really matter
I guess fans will never know. What is known is that it was a stellar offensive call and was executed beautifully. Both players were in good position to make the play and Stafford threw a pill. The result was a big-play touchdown that changed the course of the game.
The Rams next two opponents are on the road, versus the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens. Both struggle against the pass and having two wide receivers open on deep routes will give LA a huge advantage.