The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks 30-13 on Sunday afternoon as they begin the season 1-0. Sunday’s win is an impressive one as the Rams weren’t given much of a chance on the road against a division rival. Instead, Los Angeles outscored the Seahawks 24-0 in the second half which should give what is a young team a lot of confidence. Here are 10 takeaways from the Rams’ win.
1. Sean McVay Improves to 6-1 in Week 1 games.
Last season, the Rams lost their first game in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills under head coach Sean McVay. After many counted the Rams out against the Seahawks, McVay had his players ready to go and made the necessary adjustments in the second-half to come out with a win.
There’s something to be said about having your team ready to go once the season begins. McVay had some questionable coaching moments, especially opting for a 57-yard field goal in the first half. However, with a 17-13 lead and with half a yard to go, he decided to go for it. The Rams scored and it was a turning point in the game.
Via @benbbaldwin, the Rams picked up 3.7 win percentage points by opting to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the 1 yard line up up four.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakTST) September 11, 2023
Turning point in the game and effectively put the Seahawks away. pic.twitter.com/piJnEbpE5t
One thing that was forgotten about this offseason was McVay’s ability to coach up players. He showed that on Sunday afternoon and what difference that can make.
2. Offense played methodical and physical and it showed.
The Rams were very methodical and physical on offense. As the game went on, it was obvious the effect that it was having on the Seahawks defense. The Rams first scoring drive went 16 plays and lasted over nine minutes. To open the second half, the Rams offense went on a 10-play drive that lasted six minutes. After a three-and-out forced by the defense, the offense went on a 9-play, five-minute drive that ended in a field goal. The nail in the coffin was a 14-play touchdown drive that lasted six-minutes to take a 24-13 lead.
Especially in the second half, it was obvious how much the Los Angeles offense was wearing on the Seahawks defense. The Rams were 11-for-17 on third down which played a big role in being able to sustain long drives.
3. Defense deserves a lot of credit for second-half performance.
Prior to Sunday’s game, I wrote that Raheem Morris may have been the right defensive coordinator for the Rams this season. The Rams gave up 13 points in the first half, but it was obvious that they were playing tighter on wide receivers and Morris was calling a more aggressive game than at times last season.
Per @ESPNStatsInfo, the 12 yards the Seahawks gained in the second half today marked their lowest output in any half since at least 1991 (which is as far back as we have available data on that).— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) September 11, 2023
In the second half, the defense completely shutout the Seahawks offense. Seattle had 12 yards gained in the second half and converted just one first down. Morris has deserved some of the criticism that he’s received, but he deserves a lot of credit for how the defensive performed int he second half. This was a Rams defense that analysts were joking that they couldn’t name a single player outside of Aaron Donald. That same defense held a Seahawks offense with DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Kenneth Walker to 13 points.
4. Puka Nacua and TuTu Atwell stepped up when needed most.
There were serious questions about who would step up in Cooper Kupp’s absence. On Sunday, we got our answer. Puka Nacua clearly took the Kupp role in the offense, finding the soft spots in zone coverage and making some tough catches. His effort on 2nd-and-goal from the 17 to pick up 16 yards set up the Rams touchdown on the opening drive. Nacua had the best rookie debut for a Rams wide receiver since Kupp. This looks to be only the beginning.
I also can’t not mention TuTu Atwell in this column. Several times over the past two years, Atwell has been counted out. He showed flashes last year, but there were still question marks on what he could do in the Los Angeles offense. He stepped up in a big way on Sunday. Following a drop by Van Jefferson, Atwell hauled in a 44-yard reception to set up an eventual touchdown. In the fourth quarter alone, he had three receptions for 50 yards.
what a fun 3rd down design from the Rams.— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) September 10, 2023
look at how Tutu Atwell splits his teammates on his release before going vertical. pic.twitter.com/oLIva0jhd5
Both Nacua and Atwell tied as the leading receivers for the Rams against the Seahawks. The pair finished with 119 yards each.
5. Derion Kendrick wasn’t perfect, but had good moments.
Much like his 2022 season, Kendrick had some good moments, but also showed why he may not be a starting caliber cornerback. On the opening drive, Kendrick had a pass-breakup in the end zone on third down to force a field goal. DK Metcalf then beat him badly on a slant-go for a touchdown on the following drive. To be fair, it was a really good route by Metcalf.
In the second half, Kendrick was flagged for a defensive pass interference that gave Seattle a first down. However, he had tight coverage on Metcalf down the left sideline on a third down and had an overall good second half. Kendrick needs more consistency in his game, but his ability to move on to the next play is commendable.
6. Offensive Line kept Stafford upright.
The Rams offensive line did a great job at protecting Matthew Stafford. Stafford didn’t take many hits and wasn’t sacked a single time. Alaric Jackson was solid on the left side and when the offense needed time to take a shot, Stafford was able to sit in the pocket well-protected.
There is some improvement needed in the run game and run-blocking, but overall this group played very well in their first game together.
7. Kyren Williams is going to play a big role in the offense.
On that note, who had Kyren Williams scoring two touchdowns on their Bingo card? The Rams liked Williams last season, but his rookie season was derailed after an ankle injury on the opening kickoff. The Rams utilized Williams a lot on Sunday and it projects to him having a large role in the offense going forward.
Williams was the primary running back in the red zone and also had some really nice moments in pass protection. The Rams tried to get him going as a receiver, but he and Stafford just weren't on the same page on a wheel route that was open. Akers had 22 carries while Williams had 15. This is going to be a committee.
8. Edge Rushers Come On Late.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the Rams edge rushers. In the first half, the Seahawks were having some success attacking the edges as LA broke contain a few times. However, in the second half, they showed up. The Seahawks were without their starting two tackles and players like Byron Young took advantage.
Young finished with a half-sack, but did a nice job generating pressure. This is still the biggest question mark on the Rams defense, but there were some positive moments in Sunday’s win.
9. Matthew Stafford definitely is not washed and the Rams aren’t tanking.
After a down year in 2022, Matthew Stafford was consistently low in quarterback rankings and some had begin to put him on the decline. While he wasn’t special against the Seahawks, he was extremely efficient and exactly what the Rams needed him to be in the moment. Stafford was 24-for-38 for 334 yards with a 91.3 passer rating. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass, but he didn’t need to as the Rams got it done on the ground. If the Rams can keep Stafford healthy, he should perform well.
Matthew Stafford with a straddlin’ sidearm doozy pic.twitter.com/MifzdzQjOR— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) September 10, 2023
There was also a lot of talk about how the Rams were tanking. That was never the case. If so, a 17-point win against a division rival on the road is a great way to hide it. This Rams team may not be a playoff team, but they aren’t tanking either. Most weeks they are going to be competitive as they were against the Seahawks.
10. This was an impressive win for a young team.
Heading into Sunday, the Seahawks were seen as a potential contender in the NFC and a threat to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West. The Rams marched into a hostile environment when everybody had counted them out and won by 17 points. Not only that, they out-scored Seattle 24-0 in the second half. That’s complete domination. The Rams’ win may be the most impressive win by a NFC team in Week 1.
The question here is going to be whether or not the Rams can sustain it. They have a difficult matchup next week against the 49ers. San Francisco may be the better team, but it will be a good early test to see where the Rams are at.