There was a moment, albeit brief where it looked like the Los Angeles Rams might actually pull this off and keep their Lloyd Christmas playoff odds alive. Alas, they are who everyone thought they were, an injury-riddled team that has a new QB and a pre-season-level roster on both sides of the ball.
Of course, the Packers were going to win but it shouldn’t obscure the fact that despite the Rams’ massive limitations they made the Packers work for it. Does it suck that the title run is over before January? Obviously, but as stated the last few weeks, once Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, etc were shut down, it was over and all that’s left is evaluating the young talent. Baker Mayfield is trying to play for a contract and get the Rams as big a comp pick as possible.
Rams vs Packers
The first drive of the game told the story of the Rams season. Cam Akers (12 carries, 65 yards, 3 catches 36 yards) had a fourteen-yard run then Brian Allen left the game with an injury. Baker Mayfield (12/21, 111 yards, 1 TD, 1 pick) threw to Van Jefferson (2 catches, 32 yards) for a first down, and then was sacked, and they punted.
All night it felt like anytime the Rams got any type of momentum the Packers would sack Baker. Tutu Atwell (1 catch 10 yards) dropped a pass that would’ve set them up for a possible touchdown before the half. Atwell’s been getting more involved and his route running has improved but he’s still not dependable. That said, he is developing a knack for drawing flags which helps when the offense struggles to get yardage organically.
This game also featured a miracle. Tyler Higbee (4 catches, 27 yards, 1 TD) caught a touchdown. He is the first Rams’ tight end to do so all season. The play was so shocking it caused Matt Gay to miss the PAT. Kyren Williams only had one carry for seven yards. While it’s understandable that they want to get Cam Akers as much work as he can handle, they should really try and integrate Kyren more; tattered offensive line be damned.
Bend Don’t Break had another mixed night. On one hand, future comp pick Taylor Rapp picked off Aaron Rodgers on their second drive. Leonard Floyd got a sack on the Packers’ opening drive that forced Green Bay to settle for a field goal and Floyd would get another sack as would Greg Gaines.
That said, the younger players continued to have issues. Russ Yeast had an egregious face mask early in the third quarter and Michael Hoecht in coverage is not ideal. The defense also is still struggling to contain the run as evidenced by AJ Dillion and Aaron Jones running wild on them like Hulkamania.
Meanwhile, by the second half Aaron Rodgers and the young Packers’ receivers sliced through the Rams young secondary like Anakin Skywalker through a group of Padawans. The pass rush was again lacking and that causes all their other defensive deficiencies to be exacerbated. They are getting better at forcing turnovers, not only did Rapp get his second pick in as many games but Jalen Ramsey also recovered a fumble.
It’s too bad the offense struggled to take advantage. McVay still has yet to beat Matt LaFleur head-to-head and is 4-12 against LaFleur and Kyle Shanahan respectively. Fortunately, he’s 2-0 against Zac Taylor.
While “Run it Back” officially ended tonight the news wasn’t all bad. Aaron Donald made his ninth consecutive Pro Bowl despite being out for multiple games. Is it a razor-thin silver lining? Yes, but at this stage of things, beggars can’t be choosers.
Another positive is that despite all the turmoil the team hasn’t checked out or started planning their trip to the White Lotus between plays. There have been a ton of mistakes made on both sides of the ball and it’s frustrating but they’re not mistakes made for lack of effort or heart.
There are mercifully three games left and the hope is the Rams can gift fans one last win before all the armchair general managers go into draft research hibernation only to resurface in March when the roster inevitably gets overhauled. Until then, everyone should just try and enjoy the ride.