The Los Angeles Rams started 2022 the way they ended 2021, with an ugly win on the road. Von Miller sealed the Rams’ 20-19 win over the Ravens with his second sack of Tyler Huntley. Just when all hope seemed lost at halftime, the Rams proved their mental toughness yet again.
Matthew Stafford (26/35, 309 yards, two TDs, two INTs) put the Rams in a hole with two picks and a fumble but he came through in the fourth quarter. His touchdown to Odell Beckham (5 catches, 39 yards, one TD) was simply miraculous and a testament to how good Stafford can be when he gets out of his own way.
The Rams are now 12-4, and by the time this goes up, they’ll either be a two-seed or clinch the NFC West. Not bad considering their season ended in November…
The day started off on a sour note as Jalen Ramsey and Taylor Rapp got into it on the opening drive and the bad vibes kept coming. Stafford threw a first-quarter pick-six and despite Sony Michel (19 carries, 74 yards, one TD), running the ball well, Sean McVay got pass-happy.
The Ravens came in with one of the worst secondaries in the league so it made sense to test the fences but Stafford was OFF for the entire first half. Not only did he throw a pick-six (he leads the league with four) but he threw another pick in triple coverage rather than hit Van Jefferson (4 catches, 63 yards) for what would’ve been an easy first down. He did find Cooper Kupp (6 catches 95 yards, one TD) before the half but then fumbled it on the opening drive in the third.
Just when Stafford was set to have a full late period Jake Delhomme game, the offense rallied and he redeemed himself. Coop broke Issac Bruce’s single-season yardage record (sadly Megatron’s record seems out of reach) and did it his way. His catch in the backfield that broke for 25 yards to set up what would eventually be a Sony touchdown, demonstrated yet again why he’s so special. Stafford was absolutely incredible in the fourth quarter and lived up to his reputation as a clutch QB. Granted, he wouldn’t have had to be if he didn’t dig himself into a hole every game, but the fact that he can rally after being so awful is its own special skill set.
Defensively, the Rams were able to get to Huntley A LOT. Von had two sacks, Troy Reeder had a sack, A’Shawn Robinson had a sack, and both Leonard Floyd and Aaron Donald had half a sack. Justin Tucker and the pick-six were the Ravens only source of offense.
Jordan Fuller had a pick to set up the Cooper Kupp touchdown in the second quarter.
Even with Stafford once again putting the defense in a tough spot, they stepped up each and every time. Greg Gaines came up with a MASSIVE third-and-goal stop in the fourth to keep the Rams within one score despite having a club hand. The Ravens tried to run the “death by a thousand cuts” offense and while Huntley, Devonta Freeman, and Latavius Murray were able to run for first downs, the Rams defense didn’t break.
Sean McVay got his first victory over the Ravens, and in a small way, avenged the 45-6 debacle from two years ago. Fun fact, the only AFC teams he’s yet to beat are the Jets, Bills, Dolphins, and Steelers. This win, while again, ugly, showed the type of resolve this team simply didn’t have a year ago.
Next week, McVay gets a chance to avenge another Monday Night Football embarrassment, this time against the Niners. This will see the first appearance of Cam Akers since he tore his Achilles in July. The Rams seem to be finally out of the Covid storm and are relatively healthy heading into the final week of the season. Now Stafford just needs to stop stepping on rakes.