Reviewing The X-Factors In The Rams Victory Against The Buccaneers
The Los Angeles Rams came away with a huge victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. In what was a potential preview of the NFC Championship game, the Rams won comfortably with a score that made it look closer than it was. The Rams are now 3-0 with two wins being NFC teams and all three being playoff teams in 2020. Let’s review each of the x-factors previously discussed and how they impacted this game.
Offensive Line’s Biggest Test
The Buccaneers came into this game with one of if not the best front seven in the NFL. The Rams offensive line responded well keeping Matthew Stafford clean throughout the game. The Rams did not give up a sack until the fourth quarter and largely kept the Tampa Bay defense at bay all day. The offensive line as a whole only gave up 12 pressures. Austin Corbett played at an elite level and Brian Allen only gave up 1 pressure.
It is time to give Kevin Carberry and his unit the respect they deserve. They’re performing like a top-five offensive line right now after having big questions in the offseason. The protection Stafford had might have been one of the most important x-factors of the game. The big uglies stepped up and passed their biggest test to date.
Pressure Brady On Third Down
Tom Brady was always going to get his yards with how Raheem Morris’ defense is played. Stopping the Buccaneers’ offense on third downs was key to getting a win. The Rams did that well enough, holding the Buccaneers to 46% conversion rate. However, the Rams held up when they needed to and made stops when it really counted. The Rams got home against Brady three times and just missed him a couple more. Some of those conversions were a product of soft coverage late in the game so it was even better than the stat line says. Ultimately the Rams totaled 24 pressures. The pressure the Rams were able to apply allowed the Rams to consistently win the field position battle. Keeping Brady and the Buccaneers’ offense stalling at critical times was one of the most critical x-factors in this game.
Let Stafford Cook
The Buccaneers’ run defense is as tough as they come. It was always going to take a big effort by Stafford to lead this team to victory. He did just that exploiting a weak Buccaneers secondary to the tune of 343 yards and four touchdowns. Stafford was also a big reason the Rams converted 67% of their third-down attempts. The Rams offense never really slowed down once it got going and Stafford threw touchdowns to three different receivers.
Sean McVay and Stafford continued the Cooper Kupp connection and finally got DeSean Jackson involved in a big way as well. What was scary is that Stafford started slow and wasn’t always on the same page as his receivers early on. Once that chemistry really hits, this offense will be even more dangerous. Stafford and his cooking was easily one of the most exciting x-factors in this win and had SoFi Stadium rocking.
Involve The Tight Ends
Tamps Bay continued to let tight ends make plays early. Tyler Higbee‘s stat line won’t wow anyone but he was one of the most important x-factors early in the game before getting banged up. Higbee had an early touchdown in the red zone and made some other important catches as well. Stafford was able to move the ball at will against the Buccaneers and early on Higbee was a big reason for that. The Rams didn’t utilize the tight ends as much as anticipated but some of that may have been due to Higbee getting banged up. Higbee did step up as a blocker as well in this contest.
Red Zone Passing Defense
Tampa Bay came into this game with an elite red-zone offense, scoring on 70% of red zone attempts. Particularly due to Brady throwing darts. Though the stats show that the Buccaneers scored a touchdown on 75% on their red zone attempts, the reality is that the Rams shut them down constantly. Take away Brady’s garbage-time touchdown and that metric falls to 66%. The coverage in the red zone was spectacular though. They only gave up 1 touchdown and with it being garbage time we can’t really hold it against the defense. This was one of those games where the box score doesn’t matter because the game told a completely different story. The passing defense in the red zone was one of the key x-factors to the Rams winning this game.