The Los Angeles Rams beat the Seattle Seahawks by a final score of 17-16. Matthew Stafford returned from injury, but viewers should be wondering how healthy he really is after this game. The quarterback was off on the type of throws that Sean McVay most likely had in mind when LA traded Jared Goff and more to acquire the now Super Bowl winning quarterback. It will be interesting to see how many people call for a quarterback change. It makes sense that Stafford may not be as good as he once was. Time and age catchup with everyone, but does Stafford still have what it takes to lead a NFL team through a 17 game season? Stafford took a violent shot in the fourth quarter and appeared to get injured. He threw an interception on that play as well.
RIQ THE FREAK WITH THE PICK! pic.twitter.com/k9ynC5wNc9— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) November 19, 2023
Stafford did return to the game but every hit he takes it begs the question: How much more can he take?
Regardless of what the Rams are going to do for now we can look at what the Rams just did. The defense kept Seattle under 20 points, but the offense struggled immensely. The play calling wasn’t the biggest problem. McVay dialed up a couple plays that left Cooper Kupp (who was injured in this game) and Darrell Henderson wide open for what would’ve been huge gains, but as mentioned above Stafford didn’t hit either of those throws.
LA’s recent games have had positive moments, but not consistent positive stretches. After two weeks to prepare, the Rams began the game with the ball on offense, and after two weeks to prepare LA did nothing with their opening drive.
Seattle on the other hand didn’t put the Rams away, but they looked like the better team until Geno Smith got hurt. He, like Stafford, took a huge hit in this one. Before Smith went out he looked solid and opened up the scoring with a touchdown throw to DK Metcalf.
That play would be one of a few for DK who ended up having productive day, and Smith (until he was injured) threw the ball well to his receivers. Of the rookie wide receivers this year Puca Nakua is probably getting the most buzz and for good reason. Though the Seahawks have a rookie receiver of their own by the name of Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and it looks like Seattle found themselves a real one here.
As a whole Seattle’s offense moved the ball well with Smith at the helm. However the Rams defense was able to hold Pete Carroll’s team to several field goals and that allowed LA to stay in the game. Before the first half came to a close, Stafford was able to connect with Nacua to give Sean McVay and the Rams some life.
One of LA’s biggest issues this year has been playing complimentary football. LA somewhat showed it when their defense held Seattle to a field goal. and LA’s offense capitalized with a touchdown to basically close out the first half. These type of momentum builders have been inconsistent for this Rams team. To start the second half, the defense made a great stop.
Unfortunately the Rams would not be able to score or do much on offense after that great effort by the defense. On Seattle’s next offensive drive they would score a field goal. The Seahawks were able to build and sustain momentum while the Rams were being outplayed for stretches at a time. With the Rams coming off of a bye the expectation was they would be ready to go, but it took LA’s offense some time to show up to the game. The injury to Smith gave LA a real comeback chance as Drew Lock struggled in replacement duties.
I criticized Stafford at the top of this article, but please allow me to give credit where credit is due. It’s not that Stafford can’t make great plays. He absolutely can. Can he do it consistently anymore? Can he put a team on his back and make throw after throw after throw? I really don’t know, but at the very least Stafford can still thread the needle every now and again. If he can cut down on the turnovers and stay healthy he still might be the right QB for the Rams this season and beyond.
After a Rams interception by Derion Kendrick, Stafford and the running game marched on the Seahawks. LA kicked a field goal to take a one point lead.
The injured Smith returned to the game with about one minute and a half remaining in regulation and trailing by a score of 17-16. Smith did all he could and gave Seattle a real shot, but Jason Myers missed this field goal after converting on 15 previous and consecutive attempts. LA sweeps Seattle for the season, is still alive in the NFC playoff picture and will look to have their first winning streak of the year next week when they take on the Arizona Cardinals. Another division opponent. The return of Kyler Murray should make this a real challegn for LA. We’ll see if they are up to the task.