It took a gutsy performance from the Los Angeles Rams and quarterback Jared Goff to beat the Seattle Seahawks on wildcard weekend. Leading up to Saturday’s matchup, speculation swirled over the status of the fifth-year quarterback, as he looked to come back after undergoing surgery to the thumb on his throwing hand. Today we look back to the weekend and point out what went right for the Rams and how they traveled to Seattle and secured a playoff victory.
Gamble Worked Out
As the Rams took the field on Saturday, quarterback John Wolford took his spot in the starting lineup. Making his second career NFL start, Wolford looked confident in the early going. One thing became clear however, head coach Sean McVay was comfortable with letting his quarterback run the football and take hits. Wolford is a gutsy quarterback who is better equipped than Goff to run the football, but he is nonetheless a quarterback. Roughly ten minutes into the first quarter, Wolford took a hit by Seattle’s Jamal Adams a short quarterback keeper. Wolford’s neck took the brunt of the impact, forcing him out of the game and resulting in the return of Goff.
It took a bit of time to get going but Goff provided a gutsy showing and outdueled Seattle’s, Russell Wilson. Goff finished with 155 yards passing and a touchdown by completing 9 out of 15 attempts. Luck was on the side of the Rams as Goff played without any coverage behind him. Los Angeles entered the game with only Goff and Wolford as the active quarterbacks. Blake Bortles was kept inactive. If Goff had found himself injured, the Rams would likely be watching from home this weekend. McVay took a gamble with his quarterbacks and it took luck and a gutsy performance for it to pay off.
Jalen Ramsey As Advertised
Ahead of the wildcard matchup, discussion centered on the battle between cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Seattle wide receiver, D.K. Metcalf. The second-year receiver has been nothing short of explosive this season but has struggled against the physical Ramsey. The Rams have used Ramsey as their primary cover man against the opposition’s top wide receiver. Saturday was no different as Ramsey followed Metcalf around the field. While the two were locked up, Ramsey gained the upper hand and did not let go.
Latest NFL News
Metcalf finished with two touchdowns on five receptions, for 96 yards receiving. However, one of those touchdowns came on a 51-yard reception off a broken play, one where Metcalf was not being followed by Ramsey. Outside of the big play, Metcalf and the Seattle passing game was kept under control. Ramsey’s ability to shut down Metcalf without assistance allowed the rest of the defense to focus on Tyler Lockett. The result was a suffocating defense that put the clamps on an explosive Seattle passing attack.
Gutsy performances and lineman go hand in hand. Against the Seahawks, the big guys performed well. Offensively, the Rams toppled 100-yards rushing in the first half. The ground game was the catalyst and helped keep the Seahawks’ offense on the sidelines. More importantly, the line did a solid job of keeping Goff off the turf. Seattle sacked Goff just twice on Saturday. The return of left tackle Andrew Whitworth provided a much-needed boost to the offensive line. Establishing the ground game in the first half, essentially opened up the offense for play action in the second half.
Defensively, Aaron Donald was a force early. On Seattle’s first drive of the game, Donald collected two sacks of Russell Wilson. However, Donald left the game with an injury to his ribs. Los Angeles did not miss a beat as they added another three sacks to their total, the fifth time in six meetings that the Rams have sacked Wilson at least five times. The defensive line bullied Seattle and kept Wilson from finding a rhythm in the passing game. They also consistently stuffed the ground game, holding Seattle to 136 yards on the ground. Two runs for Seattle, totaling 37 yards, accounted for 27% of the team’s final tally.
With the victory, the Rams gave Pete Caroll the first home playoff loss of his Seattle tenure. Los Angeles looked like the better team and deservedly moved on. Gutsy performances up and down the roster led to a total team victory and sets the table for a trip to Green Bay for a divisional-round matchup with the Packers. Los Angeles matches up well with the Packers and should give the first seed trouble. If they can bottle the performance against the Seahawks and bring it to the Midwest, the Rams could be moving on.
– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Cardinals and covers the San Francisco 49ers for Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on Follow @ryanadverderada