The Los Angeles Rams’ offensive line played a major role in allowing the offense to churn out long, clock chewing possessions—including a 20-play 97-yard touchdown drive—as they beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 to advance to Super Bowl LVI. According to Pro Football Focus, and the all-important eye test, LA’s front played much better against San Francisco than in their previous Week 18 contest.
As previously stated, Andrew Whitworth will get the opportunity to compete for the Lombardi trophy against his former team, the Cincinnati Bengals. He recently credited the Rams recent success—winning eight of their last nine games—to establishing a more physical identity.
“Had to find what was our best version in our style, what was going to be our winning football...I think we really needed to find who we were and how we were going to play that style of football,” said Whitworth. “I think we made a transition to being a little more physical and a little more aggressive in certain situations, and not aggressive in others to make sure we’re playing complementary football in a football game.”
Pass Protection: B+
The offensive line’s physicality was evident against the 49ers, limiting their defensive front to seven pressures on Matthew Stafford’s 45 passing attempts. The last time these teams met, the big guys up front played more of a Swiss cheese style of pass pro; they allowed 22 pressures and five sacks.
Right tackle Rob Havenstein had a solid outing, limiting Nick Bosa for the majority of the game. Bosa ended the game with 1.5 sacks, including tripping up Stafford while he was flat on his back. Havenstein and right guard Austin Corbett knocked the Pro Bowl defensive end to the ground, but he was able to grab Stafford’s leg as he attempted to avoid pressure from former Ram Samson Ebukam, who split the sack with Bosa.
We will ignore why PFF did not credit Havenstein with allowing Bosa’s full sack.
Notable PFF grades from Rams NFC CG:— J.B. Long (@JB_Long) January 31, 2022
Rob Havenstein 90.1*
Cooper Kupp 84.3
Matthew Stafford 82.9
A'Shawn Robinson 79.1
Obo Okoronkwo 76.3
Austin Corbett 74.7
Travin Howard 73.3
Jalen Ramsey 73.0
Kendall Blanton 71.4 (61 snaps*)
Eric Weddle 91.0 run def
*Career high pic.twitter.com/gvm1Gk5CDC
Though Bosa’s stat line was still impressive, I didn’t really feel his presence from the couch as much as I have in previous matchups. Also, big time extra credit for Havenstein who tackled Jimmie Ward after he intercepted Stafford in the end zone. There was a bit of green ahead of Ward, had Havenstein not been able to get him to the ground.
JIMMIE WARD PICKS IT OFF pic.twitter.com/CnZFoem1Wd— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) January 30, 2022
Run Blocking: C+
While the rushing numbers for the Rams won’t jump off the page, it was still enough to make the 49ers have to respect the threat of the run. LA ran for 70 yards on the day. Cam Akers and Sony Michel were responsible for 64 of those rushing yards.
Cam Akers 14 yard run. Nice block by #18 Ben Skowronek #Rams pic.twitter.com/zVfkyJbQM4— ❌❌❌ (@FTB_Vids_YT) January 30, 2022
Given the fact that LA had previously averaged 58 yards rushing yards this season against San Francisco, the slight statistical boost in the run game was certainly needed. Again, Havenstein shined with his highest graded run blocking (93.7) game of the season.
Nothing to report here! The big guys up front weren’t called for a single penalty all day long. Hopefully, the Rams’ offensive line will continue to play mistake-free football, at least as far as penalties are concerned.