The Los Angeles Rams largely go as quarterback Matthew Stafford goes. LA’s signal caller was not on his A game in Week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings, but the unheralded Brandon Powell rose to the occasion to steal away momentum and lead his team to victory.
Powell’s standout performance has earned him the title of NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, which was awarded Wednesday morning.
✔️ 61-yard punt return TD— x - Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) December 29, 2021
✔️ Third-longest TD in Week 16
✔️ Our first special teams TD of the season
The special teams unit of Los Angeles has struggled mightily at times this season - committing penalties and mistakes at inopportune moments time and time again. There has been improvement made over the last month, and perhaps there is no better indicator than the emergence of Powell as a return specialist. Notably, Powell was released from the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad on October 12th and he did not get signed by the Rams until November 4th; however, it didn’t take long for Powell to make an impact.
Stafford had just thrown another interception and the Vikings scored an immediate touchdown to shrink the Rams’ lead to 13-10. The LA offense was stuffed and quickly went three-and-out on their following possession. It would have been easy to let the game come off the rails at that point, but the Los Angeles defense returned the favor and forced Minnesota to punt.
Next thing you know, Powell is racing down the sideline and pointing out defenders for his blockers. The return ace rolls into the end zone and throws the football in excitement - Powell had just went 61 yards to score a touchdown, which was the second scored via punt return in the 2021 regular season and the Rams’ first since 2015. While the uniqueness of the play is impressive, more important is the timing in which Powell created a game changing moment.
HUGE 61-yard punt return from Brandon Powell!— x - Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) December 26, 2021
BP to the crib for 6️⃣ | @NFLonFOX pic.twitter.com/P2P2oKml4h
Could this be a sign that LA has exorcised its special teams demons, wiping the slate clean ahead of the playoffs?