LA Rams offense is key to defense’s Super Bowl performance

Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams News Nick Scott
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

NFC Championship Game

No team has mastered the art of beating the LA Rams than their NFC West Division rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. Their head coach, Kyle Shanahan, was deceptively savvy at playing the cat and mouse game with the Rams. The ruse? Tempt and bait the Rams into opening up the passing attack, grab the lead, and then turn the pass rush loose on the Rams.

It was a strategy that worked for six consecutive victories. And it was a streak that the LA Rams needed to end in order to get to Super Bowl LVI. In previous contests, the Rams attempted to run the ball, but after 10 or so runs, committed almost entirely to a passing offense. That set the stage for the 49ers’ defense to commit solely to defending the pass, and the Rams lost the game.

Stay at your posts

But in this game, the Rams did not abandon the running game, not even when they fell behind by a score of 17-7 with just two minutes remaining in the second quarter. In a seven-play drive that moved the football 75 yards in just 3:30, the Rams mixed in two runs by RB Sony Michel, despite their ineffectiveness.  The strategy siphoned time off the game clock and gave their defense less time to defend on the football field.

Why didn’t the 49ers stay with their strategy of running the ball? Well, the Rams played throughout the post-season without the benefit of either starting safety. So offensive coordinators could not resist the temptation to construct an offensive game plan that featured the pass. Beyond that, the Rams defenders were beating the crap out of the 49ers rushers. DB Eric Weddle made a huge tackle against 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell. And a devastating, clean hit by DB Nick Scott on 49ers WR Deebo Samul almost knocked him out of his socks.

The Rams’ defense was able to finish the game with devastating effectiveness because they were well-rested. The final score was Rams 20 49ers 17. But digging a little more deeply reveals that the LA Rams won the TOP again. Rams controlled the football 35:39, while the 49ers only handled the football for 24:21. The Rams beat the 49ers, by winning the battle for time of possession.