The Los Angeles Rams got a hard-fought and much-needed victory against the Indianapolis Colts in overtime on Sunday. While it wasn’t smooth-sailing after leading 23-0 in the third quarter, they managed to get the job done and come away with a win. There were several standout performances, including wide receiver Puka Nacua. Here are 10 takeaways from the Rams’ win over the Colts.
1. Sean McVay got back to what worked
What made the loss against the Cincinnati Bengals so frustrating was that had the Rams utilized the game plan that they used against the Seattle Seahawks, they likely win that game. After hearing about the need to run the ball all week, Sean McVay leaned into the run game.
The Rams ran the ball 34 times on Sunday with Kyren Williams getting 25 of those touches. It was a balanced offensive attack which is exactly what this team needs to do in order to succeed.
2. Kyren Williams is the right running back for Rams backfield
This was the type of performance that the Rams needed out of Kyren Williams. He had two runs that went over 10 yards, including a long of 20. He showed that he can handle a 25 carry workload and got over the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career.
Williams rushed for 103 yards Sunday. It’s the most for a Rams running back within the first four weeks of a season since Darrell Henderson rushed for 114 in Week 3 of 2020. Williams is consistently falling forward and has the Rams running game ranking eighth in overall success-rate and fifth since he became the lead back in Week 2.
3. Aaron Donald had a GOAT-like performance
You could tell that Donald came into the game with a focused mindset on Sunday. He had never recorded a sack against the Colts and finally got credited for one to check that team off of his list. However, the sack may have been the least impressive play Donald made.
NFL life comes at ya fast, Blake Freeland.— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 2, 2023
cc: Aaron Donald lining up at wide 9 lol pic.twitter.com/vOmnE8fQ1u
He had a strip sack that was called back due a holding penalty on Tre Tomlinson. Lining up against Quentin Nelson, Donald consistently got pressure on Anthony Richardson and then when lined up as a “wide 9”, he took advantage of the matchup against Blake Freeland.
4. The Rams defense continues to be a strength
For the second time this season, the Rams shutout an opponent for an entire half. With six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Anthony Richardson was 7-for-17 for 135 yards passing the football. They need to be able to finish, but they were a big reason the Rams were able to pad such a big lead in the first half.
Coming into the season, there were some saying that this group had a chance to be historically bad. Instead, the historically bad defense is the one in Denver that has the worst defense ever tracked by DVOA through four games. Meanwhile, in terms of success-rate, the Rams defense ranks ninth in the NFL. On a play-to-play basis, Raheem Morris has this group playing levels above where they are talent-wise.
The Denver Broncos now have the worst defense ever tracked by DVOA through 4 games.— Aaron Schatz (@ASchatzNFL) October 2, 2023
(Higher defensive DVOA = more scoring = worse) pic.twitter.com/VgCW32DORs
5. Kevin Dotson played well in his debut
For the most part, the offensive line played well. There were a few miscommunications, but making their first change in four weeks, it was enough for the Rams to run the offense and allow Stafford time to throw.
A key part of that was the performance of Kevin Dotson. Again, there was at least one miscommunication on the right side. Still, the addition of Dotson made the offensive line appear noticeably bigger on the interior and that helped in the run game. Now that he has his first game under his belt, it will be interesting if the Rams decide to keep him there or if they continue to use him as depth behind Joe Noteboom.
6. Brett Maher’s seat should be getting warm
The Colts coming back from 23-points was on everybody. The defense allowed long drives and had chances to get off of the field and didn’t. Offensively, the Rams didn’t score a touchdown after the first quarter.
With that said, special teams had just as big of a role in the Colts coming back. Brett Maher had misses of 46 and 48 yards. Playing at an indoor stadium, missing one of those is understandable. Missing both of those is a slight problem. This isn’t to say that the Rams should cut Maher. Through four weeks, he’s mostly been good. However, he’s certainly going to be a player to watch. His misses could have been costly on Sunday.
7. Matthew Stafford is tough as nails
A lot of quarterbacks wouldn’t have finished the game against the Colts. It can be argued that Matthew Stafford shouldn’t have finished the game against the Colts. However, despite limping around the field, Stafford remained in the game and threw a game-winning touchdown pass to Puka Nacua.
It was a gritty performance from Stafford and there’s no way that the Rams don’t win the game without him. The injury will be something to monitor going forward. However, Sunday showed why Stafford is one of the toughest quarterbacks in the NFL.
8. Rams need to invest in a backup quarterback
On that note, it also shows why the Rams need to invest in a backup quarterback. How much confidence is there in Brett Rypien to lead the Rams to a win if needed in a pinch? Meanwhile, Carson Wentz is still available as a free agent.
The Rams are one-hit away from having to play Rypien at quarterback and they almost experienced that against the Colts. It’s something that they need to be prepared for and as it stands, they aren’t. This isn’t to say that Wentz could save the Rams season or has that ability. With that said, would Rypien be able to run the offense?
9. Puka Nacua’s first touchdown was everything we wanted it to be
Despite Puka Nacua leading the NFL in targets, he had yet to find the end zone in his young career. His first couldn’t have come at a better time. Nacua took advantage of a blown coverage and his first touchdown was a walk-off.
To put Nacua’s season in perspective, he has 39 receptions for 501 yards through four weeks. In Cooper Kupp’s triple crown season, he had 30 receptions for 431 yards. Kupp had more touchdowns, but Nacua is still on an insane pace. This numbers will likely come down when Kupp returns, but he’s still going to be a major part of the Rams offense.
10. This was a character-building win for the Rams
The Rams deserve a lot of credit for being able to pull off that win. It would have been very easy to allow the Colts to march down the field with under two-minutes left and two timeouts and go win the game. However, the defense forced a three-and-out. The offense didn’t have a lot of success in the fourth quarterback, but got back to what was working and went down to win the game on the opening possession in overtime.
Following a disappointing loss in Week 3 and then playing a solid team on the road on a short week, they could have given away the game after the Colts climbed back. Instead, this was a team that battled until the end and fought through tough moments to get a win. This is a type of win that will go a long way for a young team.