In a game with such a low margin of error, it’s going to be decided by just a handful of plays. That was the case here against the Panthers. The Panthers didn’t every truly threaten on offense, but the Rams still needed to find plays in big moments. Here are the three plays that changed the game.
(9:05 - 2nd QTR), 3rd-and-13 from LAR 37
The Rams offense was struggling to move the ball in the first half. Through the first two drives, they had 14 total yards and were facing a 3rd-and-13 on their third. Looking as if they were content with punting back to Carolina, Matthew Stafford threw a wide receiver screen to Cooper Kupp. Kupp took the reception and picked up 22 yards and the first down to keep the drive alive.
Later on, Darrell Henderson picked up 16 yards on a draw play on 3rd-and-15, but it was Kupp’s catch and run on a screen that sparked the drive. The Rams went on to score a touchdown and take the lead. If the Rams don’t pick up the first down in their own territory, they likely punt and the offense doesn’t get points. This high-effort play from Kupp gave the Rams offense some momentum and ended with an Allen Robinson touchdown.
(0:11 - 3rd QTR), 1st-and-10 from CAR 17
The Rams offense finally got moving in the second half. One of the main reasons for this was getting the wide receivers involved on jet sweeps. The Rams wide receivers had seven carries for 56 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was Ben Skowronek’s first in his career and put the Rams up for good
Ben Skowronek takes a jet sweep for 6! pic.twitter.com/K0UTP4SNrN— Main Team (@MainTeamSports2) October 16, 2022
McVay said earlier in the week that the Rams needed to get more creative in the run game. The jet sweeps were a much-needed wrinkle in the run game to keep the Panthers off balance. The Rams went from having a 72.4 percent chance to win to 82.4 percent after this play by Skowronek.
(11:03 - 4th QTR), 3rd-and-4 from CAR 41
At this point in the game, the Rams were only leading by seven points. Facing a 3rd-and-4 from the 41 yard line, not converting would have set up close to a 58-yard field goal. The Rams needed to convert here to put the game out of reach for a Panthers offense that had been struggling all afternoon.
The result was Stafford and Robinson connecting on a contested catch opportunity outside of the red zone for the first time all season. Stafford threw a beautiful back-shoulder throw and Robinson went up and snatched the ball over the cornerback. The Panthers challenged the play, but after review the play stood.
The Rams went down and scored a touchdown following the conversion to go up by two scores and put the game on ice. Hopefully Sunday marked a turning point for Robinson in the Rams offense and is a sign of things to come.