Domination in the trenches translated to a blowout win for the Los Angeles Rams over the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately, the offensive line was unable to escape completely unscathed. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth suffered an injury to his ankle on the first play of the game. Head coach Sean McVay stated Whitworth will be day-to-day.
“Whitworth got his ankle and kind of his knee rolled up on on that first run of the game and he’ll be day-to-day. He was getting a scan today (Monday) so, waiting on those results.”
After missing the rest of the first drive, Whitworth returned to the lineup in the second series, though he was clearly hobbled. He was able to gut it out and play the rest of the first half. Thankfully, the game was well in the Rams’ control and Big Whit sat the rest of the game. Hopefully the ageless wonder will be able to suit up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, though Joe Noteboom has proven to be a quality replacement at the very least.
Pass Protection: A+
According to Pro Football Focus, the offensive line only allowed four total pressures on quarterback Matthew Stafford against the Cardinals. Stafford was also sacked once by Markus Golden, who was being blocked by right tackle Rob Havenstein. Since Stafford had about five seconds between the time he received the snap and when he was taken to the ground, it was clearly a coverage sack, and not credited to Havenstein.
First career #NFLPlayoffs win in the books for Matthew Stafford #RamsHouse | @RamsNFL pic.twitter.com/7uDHEkdN2n— NFL (@NFL) January 18, 2022
Linebacker Dennis Gardeck also got a big hit on Stafford after being engaged with center Brian Allen for just under four seconds. Other than that, the O-line kept Stafford clean, allowing him to confidently complete 76 percent of his passes.
Run Blocking: A
Sony Michel and Cam Akers combined for 113 yards on 30 carries, good for 3.7 yards per attempt. Watching the game, it certainly felt like both the yards and average per carry were much higher, which we will address shortly.
Cam Akers tore his Achilles in July…— Roto Street Journal (RSJ) (@RotoStJournal) January 18, 2022
18 touches & 95 total yds against the Cardinals
The line of scrimmage was consistently moved forward by the Rams offensive line. They were able to push the Arizona defensive front back and open lanes for both backs at will. If LA is able at least match the 22 rush attempts against the Bucs from Week 3 in the Divisional Game, I would expect a favorable outcome for the Rams.
The offensive line had four penalties which took four first downs and 66 yards off of the board. That can’t happen against any of the remaining teams in the playoffs. One big 24-yard catch by Odell Beckham Jr. and three Akers runs totaling 42 yards were erased. Hopefully, Los Angeles will be able to clean those penalties up, as the completion gets much better going forward.