The Los Angeles Rams second-year running back Kyren Williams exploded in his return from IR to the tune of 204 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. It is Williams fourth two-touchdown performance in 2023, tied for the most in the NFL, despite him missing four games this season with an ankle injury.
Given the heavy workload Williams handled on Sunday, it’s natural for one to question how his freshly healed ankle was holding up. Williams calmed any nerves about that in his post game interview. When asked how his ankle was feeling after the game, Williams responded:
“How many — 200 yards from scrimmage?” he said, via the team’s official website. “I want to say (I feel) 200 percent this time.”
Williams helped the Rams offense completely dominate the Cardinals defense, so the positive news of how well his ankle is feeling has to be music to all LA fans ears. Royce Freeman and Darrell Henderson were solid replacements in Williams’ absence, but it’s clear to see how much more effective and explosive head coach Sean McVay’s offense is with number 23 in the lineup.
In total, Williams ran for 143 yards on the ground, along with six catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first player in NFL history with 140-plus rushing yards, six-plus receptions, 60-plus receiving yards, and two-plus receiving TDs in a game per NFL.com.
Sean McVay was glowing when speaking on Williams’ performance and competitiveness, saying after the game:
“He’s a really good football player, and he’s one of those guys, he loves competing, and when you’ve got that natural just zest and enjoyment for going out there and playing the game and then oh by the way, you’re really productive,” McVay continued “I mean, he’s doing a great job. Kyren is just so conscientious. He loves to compete. He’s worked really hard, he’s worked really hard just to be able to get himself back to perform at that level. It was cool to see.”
Quarterback Matthew Stafford also liked what he saw out of Williams, specifically in the passing game, saying:
“I think he’s pretty good at it all the time, you know?” He continued “They were playing really deep and short on a lot of our play action passes, just trying to kind of dare us to throw it down the field, and I was just trying to check it down. He did a nice job of making those plays into efficient plays, if not explosive, for us. Caught a couple screen passes and did a great job.”
Williams ability to catch the ball reliably out of the backfield, while giving the less-mobile Stafford a safety valve, cannot be overvalued. It helps in every aspect of the offense, allowing less pressure on the line, less potential hits on the aging Stafford, and gives the team a chance at some kind of small positive gain on almost every play. Stafford threw two of his four touchdowns to Williams in the game.
The Rams have put together their first back-to-back wins of the season, and have placed themselves in the thick of the NFC playoff race, something that analysts would have never seemed to have imagined in the preseason. This has been a masterful coaching job by McVay, given the amount of rookies in starting positions and the lack of big name stars on the roster.
Los Angeles will look to continue their playoff push against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, who may be without their defensive superstar Miles Garrett. The perennial defensive player of the year candidate was injured this past week against the Denver Broncos. If the Rams can pickup a win, the team would get back to .500 for the first time since Week 6.