The Los Angeles Rams gave up their first halftime lead in Sean McVay’s history. With the game being the last one before the playoffs, backing into the bracket is not the way the team wanted to end the regular season. However, while the team lost, some players had a winner of a day. Here’s a look at the winners and losers of the Rams’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Los Angeles Rams Winners and Losers: Week 18
Kupp may not have set any records on Sunday, but the wide receiver still etched his name into the great stone of history. In the game against the 49ers, it seemed that Kupp was going to eviscerate the record for single-season receiving yards set by Calvin Johnson in 2012. In his first four catches, Kupp was already past the 80-yard mark. However, he was mysteriously kept out of the game plan after that. Later, in overtime, Kupp had one chance to catch the needed 20-yard pass to pass Johnson. Instead, Odell Beckham Jr. stepped in front of the ball path and failed to catch the ball.
Had Kupp caught the pass, he would have had a great shot at the record for receiving yards in a season. He was heading towards the sideline and was only roughly seven yards down the field, but he could have easily cut upfield for 15 more. Alas, while Kupp didn’t get the record, he still inserted himself with the likes of Johnson, Julio Jones, Jerry Rice, and Antonio Brown. As an added consolation prize, Kupp also won the triple crown, meaning he had more receptions, yards, and touchdowns than any other player in the NFL this season. That must feel pretty good.
While it was nowhere near as crazy of a day for Higbee, the tight end had arguably his biggest game of the season. In the contest, Higbee caught six passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns. His final season totals are 61 catches for 560 yards and five touchdowns. 2021 was Higbee’s second most productive season in his career. He should pat himself on the back for that, but he shouldn’t give himself a complete pass. With Gerald Everett out the door, many expected Higbee to push for his first 1000 yard season. Higbee didn’t come close to that. Going forward, it feels like Higbee’s ceiling in the offense is made of concrete, no matter who is on the team.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham not only potentially cost his team the game by going for the one-handed catch in overtime, but he cost his teammate a chance at history. Considering Beckham only caught two passes for 18 yards, many could argue that Beckham’s productivity was a net negative. In other words, had he been on the sidelines, the Rams may have won the game against the 49ers. Luckily, Beckham still has a chance to make it up in the playoffs.
Michel may have received 21 carries against the 49ers, but the former Patriot only earned 43 yards and a 2.0 yards per carry average. This was also the first game that Cam Akers played in since injuring his Achilles. The storm is coming for Michel and one more bad game will loom large for McVay in deciding the game plan for next season. One bad game in the playoffs is equal to half a season of struggle. If Michel has a repeat performance next week, his future with the Rams is in trouble.
The standing goal for Stafford was to beat his personal touchdown total record. Instead, the former Lions quarterback tied his career-best. In 2011, Stafford threw for 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. In 2021, Stafford threw for 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. With an extra game and what many call a much deeper roster, Stafford simply could not match what he did ten years ago.
Looking back, the games against the Vikings, 49ers, and Titans loom large as times when Stafford could have been better. If he had simply taken his one touchdown, three-interception game against the Vikings and flipped it, he would have beaten his record. Instead, too many stumbles ultimately proved to be too much in the end. Of course, Stafford can still make the failure meaningless with a Super Bowl victory. It is all out in front of Stafford. Will he cut out the noise, sacrifice, and focus for the next month to reach a new height in his life?