The Los Angeles Rams got that much closer to winning the NFC West division with a 20 to 19 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Matthew Stafford had a rough three quarters of play, but put together the game-winning drive at the end and was 14-of-14 for 162 yards with the game-winning touchdown in the second half.
Aaron Donald continued his late run at the Defensive Player of the Year award and Cooper Kupp also continued to make his case for MVP and Offensive Player of the Year after surpassing Isaac Bruce’s franchise single season receiving record. Here is how it all went down.
Baltimore’s first drive of the game was stifled by LA’s run defense. After getting two first downs on impressive Tyler Huntley throws, it was Aaron Donald who wrecked a third down run three yards out, dropping running back Devonta Freeman for a three yard loss. On the ensuing punt, the Ravens punter Sam Koch pinned the Rams at the four yard line.
Tyler Higbee’s impact in the pass game was quickly felt as Stafford found him for three receptions that went for 44 yards in just the first drive. A holding penalty called on Andrew Whitworth killed LA’s momentum, and Matt Gay missed his first field goal since Week 4 on a 54 yard attempt.
Some controversy between Tyler Rapp and Jalen Ramsey may have been an early highlight, but A’Shawn Robinson would take the attention away with his first sack of the season. The second year Ram did not bite on the play-action and dropped the Raven quarterback 11 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Koch’s second punt of the game was nearly as good as his first, pinning LA’s offense at the eight yard line.
Stafford’s woes within in his own 20 yard line continued to be a trend. On a 3rd-and-two the Rams quarterback quickly fired a pass to Tyler Higbee, but before it could hit his tight end’s hands Chuck Clark jumped the route and took it to the house.
Score: Ravens 7, Rams 0
The Rams next possession was similar to their last. Cooper Kupp continued to near the NFL receiving record when he helped convert a third-and-9 on a 22 yard gain. Stafford’s next attempt was a deep pass to Odell Beckham Jr. that was intercepted by Clark once again.
OH MY GOODNESS!— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 2, 2022
ANOTHER INT FOR CHUCK!!
Tune in on FOX! pic.twitter.com/F4zFeYnnMC
Disfunction on the defensive side of the ball continued into the second quarter. On a first-and-19, Huntely found Mark Andrews for a 18 yard pass that broke the Ravens single-season receiving record. A few plays later a wide-open Andrews burned them on a 33 yard reception. Huntley continued the drive on a designed fourth-and-1 quarterback scramble that netted his offense 15 yards. On third-and-goal at the LA 5 Aaron Donald got a hold of the Ravens quarterback that sent his pass too deep for his receiver. They settled for three instead.
Los Angeles continued to struggle on offense and hurt themselves with penalties. On second-and-10 Stafford found Beckham who turned up the field for a nine yard gain to make it a short first down. Sony Michel, however, was called for a blindside block that took LA back 15 yards. A 17 yard pass to Beckham made got the Rams close, but McVay elected to settle for a punt instead.
Jordan Fuller bailed his coach out when he made a pivotal interception at the most opportune time.
With the ball set up on the BAL 29 after a 34 yard return by Fuller, it took only three plays for Cooper Kupp to find a touchdown on a 18 yard score.
Baltimore relied on the legs of their quarterback to make a last-minute drive to get Justin Tucker within his field-goal range. Before the end-of-regulation, Tucker put another three on the board with a 46 yard attempt.
Score: Ravens 13, Rams 7
With an opportunity to take the lead, McVay’s offense came out firing. Stafford found Van Jefferson for a 35 yard gain on a third-and-7 and then relied on the legs of Sony Michel to get to the 11 yard line. After moving the ball effectively, Stafford lost the football when Rob Havenstein missed a block and let Tyus Bowser get the strip sack.
Following the fumble, Baltimore organized a 15 play drive that took 6:23 off the clock. Ramsey made the play on third-and-7 to finally end the drive and Tucker made his third attempt of the game with a 46 yard field goal.
Stafford and company’s next opportunity ended quickly with their first three-and-out of the match, but LA’s defense would return the favor. Both Leonard Floyd and Von Miller found Huntley behind the line of scrimmage for a combined sack that helped kill the Ravens drive.
Score: Ravens 16, Rams 7
Michel continued to run hard to get the gears moving on offense, averaging almost four and half yards per carry—but it will be Kupp’s wide receiver screen that is the highlight of the Rams game on Sunday. The catch on the screen turned into a 21 yard gain that set Rams franchise single-season record for receiving yards, surpassing Rams legend Isaac Bruce. The impressive run-and-catch that showcased Kupp’s shiftiness would lead to a Michel touchdown on a hard run in the red zone.
The Ravens answered quickly when Freeman found a opening in the Rams defense for a 32 yard gain. Huntley then found Marquise Brown for an 11 yard gain and relied on Latavius Murray to move the sticks the rest of the way. LA’s defense was bullied by Baltimore’s running attack—on a 14 play drive nine of them were rushes. It was not enough, however, as Leonard Floyd got the sack on a third-and-goal attempt. Tucker made his fourth field goal of the game, putting LA down just five points with 4:33 left in the game.
The Rams potential game-winning drive started out fast. Stafford found Higbee for a gain of 15 yards, then threw a perfect pass to a wide-open Kupp for a 24 yard gain. Ben Skowronek may end up being the unsung hero with his 15 yard contribution on possibly the Rams last drive of the game. With LA in enemy territory, McVay put the ball in Michel’s hands and he turned his attempt into a gain of eight. On a third-and-1 at the BAL 8, Michel was tackled for a four yard loss, setting up a fourth-and-5 and the game on the line. It was not Kupp, but rather Beckham as the go to for the first down. He then followed that up with the game-leading touchdown grab. A failed two point conversion kept it just a one point game.
With just a single timeout left and 54 second left in the game, Huntley took his team to the field. Darious Williams nearly had the game-ending interception but it just barely fell out of his hands. A Von Miller Sack left three second left on the game. On the final play of the game, Huntley’s last throw was not enough, giving the Rams the victory.
Final Score: Rams 20, Ravens 19