Good And Bad Feelings After The Rams Playoff Win
When asked for a reaction on beating the Seahawks in Seattle, Jared Goff said, “It felt good.” And it should feel good to break Seattle’s 10 game home playoff winning streak. It also feels good to stay alive in the playoffs and win in a strong fashion. The Rams looked good on Saturday afternoon. On offense, they protected the QB and ran the ball effectively. And! Most importantly, they scored touchdowns. All good things.
But, not even 10 minutes into the contest, Rams nation wasn’t feeling so good. John Wolford took a vicious hit from Jamal Adams diving for a few extra yards on a run. Soon after, he was on the ground surrounded by team doctors. The most googled search in the next few minutes in the LA area must have been “Rams Emergency QB.” The knowledge gained from that search shouldn’t have made any Rams fan comfortable. Johnny Hekker, Cam Akers, Cooper Kupp.
Luckily a real QB was still available. Jared Goff, fresh off hand surgery on his throwing hand. A hand that had thrown 13 interceptions when it wasn’t held together by surgical pins and tape! The nation still wasn’t feeling good. Goff’s first drop back came on his second snap in the game. BOOM. A seven-yard sack by Jarran Reed. That ended the drive, but the Rams were still in field goal range. 3-0.
Word quickly came back that Wolford was en route to the hospital. The game was in the broken hand of an inconsistent quarterback. When does this start to feel good Mr. Goff?
The answer is: anytime the Rams defense took the field. They were dominant. Russell Wilson could not move the ball. He was sacked five times and was intercepted once again by Darious Williams, who took the pick into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown. Jalen Ramsey showed why he was worth two first-round picks and Aaron Donald was spectacular once again.
Not only did the defense shut down the Seahawks, but Sean McVay was able to keep the ball out of Wilson’s hands by leaning into the run game. The Rams rushed 43 times and owned the time of possession battle, 33:39 to 26:21.
The hero of the game was Cam Akers. He set the rookie playoff rushing record at 133 yards. He also turned a 4-yard catch into a 44-yard touchdown. That was the Rams first offensive touchdown in almost 10 quarters of football. That felt very good. The team had been playing like it had a monkey on its back since its loss to the Jets and with that touchdown, it seems they finally were able to shake off the bad juju of that loss.
The unsung hero of the game is Andrew Whitworth. A big reason Goff felt so good after the game was because Whitworth had his back. He kept the running game churning and the pocket clean.
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Goff’s entry into the game was dramatic and was the kind of moment that makes legends in sports. Goff didn’t turn himself into Kurt Gibson on Saturday, but he didn’t do anything to cost the team the game. But, you have to give him more credit than just not screwing up. He played a good game.
The best praise came from Sean McVay, who has seemed frustrated with Goff’s performance this season. “For him to be able to throw the football is pretty impressive,” McVay said. “There were a couple of limitations which led to the decision to go with John. I was real pleased with Jared, and I think it was a real credit to him to be able to handle this week the right way and have himself mentally ready to go.”
Goff connected with Robert Woods for a 15 yard TD in the fourth quarter to all but seal the victory after the special teams forced a fumble on a punt return.
It feels good when all three facets of the team play a role in winning and it’s even better when all the big names on the team are making an impact. Cooper Kupp kept the chains moving and caught a 44-yard pass which set up a field goal.
Nothing is better than winning, especially in the playoffs. But coming out of this game there are some looming bad feelings. What we know as of today is that the Rams have two banged-up quarterbacks, a wide receiver with a knee contusion, and the best player in football is listed as “questionable.”
Donald’s X-rays came back negative and will undergo an MRI later on Sunday. The Rams defense continued to look good even after Donald exited the game, but they will likely face the Green Bay Packers in the next round. Their offense has been playing much better than that of the Seahawks. To have a fighting chance the Rams defense will have to play even better next week and will need Donald to have an impact on the game.
At times this season the Rams played like they were among the best teams in the league. The best feeling coming out of this game is that there is recent proof that they can be that team. Hopefully, that team shows up again next Sunday and the good feelings are here for at least one more week.