First of all, is that Aaron Donald an absolute monster or what? I’m terrified of him even when it’s a still image. How many times per game does he get held, I wonder.
Donald’s Defensive Player of the Year campaign in 2020 is one thing that I do remember, but sometimes I have a hard time recalling the micro-moments. Given that we are now past the draft, it seems like a good time to reflect on what happened last season because it could give us a better perspective on what to expect from next season.
Though the LA Rams have made a number of notable changes, much will be the same, including Donald.
Week 1 - LA Rams vs Dallas Cowboys (SNF)
Important Personnel Notes:
- Joseph Noteboom was the starter at left guard.
- Malcolm Brown started at running back and led position with 60% of the snaps.
- Van Jefferson played in 33 snaps.
- Samson Ebukam played in season-high 53 snaps (no other games with over 38).
- Sam Sloman was the kicker.
- One of the few games in which Cowboys had QB Dak Prescott.
I think something that will be important to keep track of during this season review is LA’s first half offensive production vs their output in the latter half. The Rams were on fire to open this game, scoring 20 points on their first six drives, with three of those drives going at least 70 yards.
But on the final five drives, the Rams had zero points, three punts, one interception, and only 61 total yards.
LA opened with an easy 75-yard touchdown drive that started with a defensive penalty and only took seven plays to find the end zone. The Rams’ next drive could have gone even better, but the rookie Sloman missed a 29-yard field goal attempt and that’s why he’s no longer around.
The Cowboys tied the game 7-7 on the ensuing drive with Prescott tossing it around more successfully than most quarterbacks would tend to do against the Rams for the rest of 2020. LA answered with a successful field goal try by Sloman to take a 10-7 lead, and a missed field goal by former Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein kept the score as such. Sloman was good from 31 on the following drive, in which the big play was a 31-yard gain to Jefferson.
It would end up being Van Jefferson’s longest gain of the season, one of two that went more than 20.
But Prescott tore through the defense again just before halftime, giving the Cowboys a 14-13 lead on the break after a one-yard touchdown by Ezekiel Elliott.
On LA’s first drive of the second half, Jared Goff twice converted on third down, then completed a 30-yard pass to Robert Woods. A few plays later, Brown scored his second touchdown of the game and that 20-14 lead would be enough to keep the Rams ahead on the final score.
However, the offense did little to help the Rams’ case from there and it was a masterful job by the defense in the fourth quarter to keep Prescott and Elliott out of the end zone — and out of field goal range — on Dallas’s final two drives.
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy had a chance to tie the game 20-20 early in the fourth quarter, but opted to go for it on fourth-and-3. That’s when Jordan Fuller stamped his name as one of LA’s brightest young stars in his very first start:
Final Score: Rams 20, Cowboys 17
Up next: at Philadelphia Eagles