The Los Angeles Rams were down by 10 points entering the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game. How they overcame the 17-7 deficit and ultimately became the NFC Champions comes down to and can be represented offensively by the fourth quarter drive that resulted in a Cooper Kupp touchdown to bring the Rams to within three points of evening the score.
Down by ten, with 1:59 left in the third quarter, the Rams started the drive at their own 25 yard line. The plan appeared to be understanding of the fact that neither team was having much success running the ball between the tackles but the run must be included to control the ball and keep the defense honest.
The drive includes seven plays and goes 85 yards. Five pass plays and two run plays ends up with a touchdown. Kupp gets the ball three times, Kendall Blanton catches two passes, and Sony Michel runs the ball twice. McVay decides to throw the ball on first down three times. The first pass goes to Kupp which goes for seven yards and also gets a 15 yard penalty and unsportsmanlike conduct. The second and third first down passes go to tight end Kendall Blanton. The first pass to Blanton goes for 20 yards and converts a first down. The second pass to Blanton goes for nine yards and sets up a second and one.
The second of the run plays to Michel goes for a no gain and sets up a third and one situation at the San Francisco 11 yard line. That’s when Kupp lines up to the left and gets by his man with enough room for Stafford to drop him a dime for the score.
This drive was perfectly called and executed and it led to the score that began the Rams comeback. While no game in it’s entirety is perfect, this drive represented what the Rams were aiming to do and how they intended to do it. While having to lean on some depth players like Blanton, they operated with confidence. McVay had Stafford deliver quick passes to Kupp, OBJ, and the tight ends throughout the game to stretch the field horizontally, get the ball out quickly and supplement the lack of interior run game. However, the interior run game was still used, as it was on this drive, not ending up in yards gained but to present a balanced attack. When the time was right, with the defense creeping up to stop the bleeding, McVay snuck Kupp to the secondary zone and Stafford nailed it for the score.
And now for today’s links:
Bengals, not Rams, are official home team for Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium (NFL.com)
MCL sprain puts Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee’s status for Super Bowl in question (ESPN)
Matthew Stafford: “I’m just so proud of this group” (Rams.com)
Sean McVay: If you don’t root for Matthew Stafford, ‘something’s wrong with you’ (RamsWire)
Tom Brady ‘still going through the process,’ has made no decision on playing future (NFL.com)
Vikings plan to fly in Jim Harbaugh for head coaching interview (NFL.com)
New Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels says he wasn’t ready in first shot with Denver Broncos (ESPN)
Chicago Bears will build offense around QB Justin Fields, new coach Matt Eberflus says (ESPN)