Flawless LA Rams appear hard to beat in first playoff game

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams finally protected the football, and the result was an upset victory in round one of the NFL Playoffs.

The LA Rams have a love-hate relationship with ball security this season. They love to turn over the football, and we hate to see it. It’s been that way all season, in all circumstances. In fact, the Rams have turned the ball over in one form or another in each game this season.  And if there is one thing that will frustrate fans faster than any other action, it is turning the ball over.

And yet, the Rams did not turn the ball over against the Seattle Seahawks in round one of the NFL Playoffs. On the contrary, the Rams forced two turnovers. The first was a pick-six intercept by defensive back Darious Williams against a wide receiver screen intended for Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.

The second was a forced fumble created by outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo on a punt return that was recovered by inside linebacker Micah Kiser.  That turnover led to a touchdown pass from starting quarterback Jared Goff to Robert Woods for 15 yards. That touchdown put the Rams ahead by a score of 30-13, and they would hold on to win this one 30-20.

Turnovers matter

The impact of two turnovers was a 14 point differential and was the margin of victory for the Rams in this one. The LA Rams put up two touchdowns and two extra points thanks to the ability to pick the pockets of receivers and return specialists.  And it’s the turnover factor that was the difference in this one. The little things make a big difference.

Yes, the Rams did not light up the skies with 500 yards and six touchdowns. But the Rams won in this one, convincingly.  On a swollen thumb in his right hand, veteran quarterback Jared Goff threw nine completions out of 19 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. The Rams were able to win the game because the running game finally stepped up. Rookie running back Cam Akers rushed 28 times for 131 yards and a touchdown. The special teams created a turnover. But most of all, the Rams defense was devastatingly effective.

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Deep balls are back

Not only were the Rams able to run the ball, but the playbook for deep passes is back. This time it was not Wolford, but rather Goff, who chucked the ball deep down the field for huge chunks of real estate. In fact, Goff threw two passes over 40 yards, one to running back Cam Akers, and one that resulted in a tremendous circus catch by wide receiver Cooper Kupp.

Despite that quick-strike deep pass attack, the Rams controlled the clock with a heavy dose of the running game. That allowed the defense to play rested and refreshed the entire game. And that was huge for a team that has depended so heavily upon the defense to bail them out. That was not the case in this one.  While the offense was not surgical nor precise, it was the type of gutsy win that contributes heavily to the team’s confidence.

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The Rams won a game with an entire team effort. And that is good news for a team that needs to win three more games to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in a victory celebration. Do not discount the LA Rams, folks. They are getting hot, just as we expected they would.