In this series, we recount every game that the LA Rams played last season as a way to remember important context and to get a feeling for how the returning players and coaches could respond to what went wrong in 2020. And what went right.
But 31 of 32 NFL teams will have a loss that ends their season and it’s important to remember that even though the Rams lost to the winless Jets in Week 15, a win almost certainly wouldn’t have changed where LA finished in the NFC West standings. Just as important as it is to remember that even though the Rams also lost this final chance to stay alive for a division title, losing to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16 did nothing to stop LA from beating the Seattle Seahawks when it mattered most two weeks later.
This recall game is a loss to the Seahawks. But as it turns out, the only thing really meaningful about it might have been Jared Goff’s broken thumb — an injury that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Rams.
2020 Season Results
Week 1 - Win over the Cowboys
Week 2 - Win over the Eagles
Week 3 - Loss to the Bills
Week 4 - Win over the Giants
Week 5 - Win over a Football Team
Week 6 - Loss to the 49ers
Week 7 - Win over the Bears
Week 8 - Loss to the Dolphins
Week 9 - BYE
Week 10 - Win over the Seahawks
Week 11 - Win over the Bucs
Week 12 - Loss to the 49ers
Week 13 - Win over the Cardinals
Week 14 - Win over the Patriots
Week 15 - Loss to the Jets
Week 16 - (9-5) Los Angeles Rams at (10-4) Seattle Seahawks
Important Personnel Notes:
- Jared Goff broke his thumb late, but remained in the game
- Darrell Henderson started in place of injured Cam Akers, but Malcolm Brown out-snapped him 44 to 31
- Rob Havenstein left for three snaps
- Troy Hill played in all 63 snaps, compared to only 39 snaps for Darious Williams
- Season-high 34 snaps for Morgan Fox
- The Seahawks started Jordan Simmons at right guard, his first start since Week 9, and Cedric Ogbuehi made his second start of the season at right tackle
The first half featured four fields goals and the halftime score was 6-6. Leonard Floyd had two key third down sacks on Russell Wilson, while Sebastian Joseph-Day also had one. Matt Gay was good from 44 and 51. Jared Goff should have never thrown this pass:
On the first drive of the second half, Seattle was facing third-and-8. Wilson had an opportunity to scramble for a first down, but instead went deep to receiver David Moore, who made a grab over Darious Williams and gained 45 yards.
NFL @NextGenStats says on his 45-yard completion to David Moore vs Rams last weekend, Russell Wilson was traveling 14.46 mph. That’s the fastest QB speed on a pass of 40+ air yards this year.— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) December 29, 2020
The ball traveled 46.8 yards in the air. completion probability: 26.0%. #Seahawks
Three plays later, Wilson found Carlos Hyde for a gain of 18 on third-and-9, then the quarterback kept it himself for a four-yard touchdown run.
The 45-yard completion and 18-yard gains could serve as the “key plays” on their own, but it wouldn’t have mattered if the Rams were able to immediately answer with a touchdown of their own. And that nearly happened.
After gaining 23 yards on a Darrell Henderson run to begin the next drive, then soon later a 22-yard gain by Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles was setup with first-and-Goal from Seattle’s 2. If Matthew Stafford is the quarterback, the outcome of this drive might be different. If Cam Akers is available, the outcome of this drive might be different. As a writer who strives to be rational and not overly dramatic, let me make it also plainly clear that not even an offense of Hall of Famers are guaranteed to score with four chances from the 2.
But it is also rational to say that when three of those four chances are given to Malcolm Brown, something is amiss with personnel.
McVay called a run for Brown on first down, losing two yards.
McVay called a run for Brown on second down, gaining three yards.
Goff kept it on third down, gaining zero yards.
McVay called a run for Brown on fourth down, gaining zero yards.
It’s not enough to say that the Rams should have taken the three points, because a field goal would come minutes later because the Seahawks were backed up in their own territory and went nowhere. But back-to-back drives that ended up in the red zone only resulted in three points. Whether they got those three points on one drive or two, the only thing that mattered to McVay was the fact that entering the fourth quarter, his Rams had only managed three field goals against a defense that earlier in the season was giving out touchdowns like they were promotional items.
Even still, the score was 13-9 when the Rams had the ball at midfield with 8:00 remaining. But whether it be Goff or Brown, LA could only turn to players who weren’t a match for a good NFL team in Week 16.
Following a punt, Seattle marched right into Rams territory and then converted two third downs, including a 13-yard touchdown from Wilson to Jacob Hollister. The Seahawks would win the game and the NFC West that day, but efforts to repeat this defensive performance two weeks later when Akers had returned, proved fruitless.