Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay took the Seattle Seahawks, as well as Rams fans, to the edge of game time to reveal which of his quarterbacks would start Saturday’s first NFC wild card match-up. It was John Wolford, to the approval of most of the fans. However, by the game’s end, even the inactive Blake Bortles could have won this game. The Los Angeles Rams defense was that good. It was, in fact, so good that the services of the best and most disruptive player in football weren’t needed by mid-third quarter. A statement in itself going forward.
Los Angeles Rams Defense Offensively Good In Wild Card Win Over Seattle Seahawks
Imagine an NFL world where the top-ranked defense featuring its league-best defensive player can lose that player and remain top-ranked during the most competitive time of the season. Now stop imagining and realize this could be the case in real-time, if the last quarter and a half of the Rams stout 30-20 victory over the Seahawks is any indication.
Let’s face it, if you haven’t by now, the defense has carried the team for the majority of the 2020-21 season. It appears this will continue in the post-season. The final score of 30-20 is deceiving. It was rather obviously early on that the Hawks had little chance of getting their claws deep enough into the flow of things to ever take control. And because of the Rams offensive line getting back healthy, who started the game at quarterback was all but a forgotten thought by halftime.
The Seahawks came out extremely confident fresh off their 20-9 victory in Week 16, especially on the defensive side. They were aggressive and methodical, appearing to feed off each other’s success in disrupting the Rams game plan.
The main disruption — or so it appeared at that moment in time — was the injury to quarterback John “The Wolfman” Wolford. Wolford, who should consider sliding feet-first in the future, scampered off right tackle for two yards before getting clocked while nearly down. The blow pushed his head down into his neck (which is always frightening initially and dangerously threatens paralysis). He was stabilized and driven to a local hospital but returned to the locker room to support his team’s victory. Jamal Adams’ suspect tackle was quickly labeled ‘a hit on a defenseless player’ by Mike Pereira (@MikePereira – NFL’s ex-officiating Vice President). The game officials, after throwing flags, discussed the matter and disregarded the previously-called penalty.
Two snaps later, the familiar sight of a seemingly confused Jared Goff getting sacked likely made for a collective groaning sound in living rooms across Los Angeles. Kicker Matt Gay and the Rams managed a 40-yard field goal out of the series. Rams 3-0.
With Aaron Donald leading the way, the quarter’s final minutes were dominated by the Rams defense. Donald sacked Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson on two of three consecutive plays in that stretch. End of quarter: Rams 3, Seahawks 0.
Wilson’s sidelines team pep talk had little to no effect in this quarter and a frustrated D.K. Metcalf was witnessed having a meltdown.
Goff escaped a dangerously-sloppy pass play near his own end zone followed by somewhat shaky play but would be bailed out later with an amazing back-to-the-underthrown-ball effort by Cooper Kupp. This led to a 39-yard field goal (M. Gay) following a 50-yarder by Seahawks Jason Myers. Rams 6-3.
On the very next Seahawks possession, the Rams dealt a shocking blow to the city of Seattle. Cornerback Darius Williams — who had been picked on earlier in the game by the Jalen Ramsey-avoiding combo of Wilson and Metcalf — appeared to be sitting on a quick pass to Metcalf at the line of scrimmage. He darted between two Seahawks for the steal and took it to the house. Rams 13-3.
Seattle answered back promptly on their next series highlighted by a 51-yard strike to D.J. Metcalf. Rams 13-10.
But the Rams answered back on their following possession. Cam Akers was featured this time, capping highlights with a short pass he turned into 44 yards and a five-yard finishing touchdown run. The rookie running back accumulated 122 total yards so far, on the way to breaking a franchise record. At the half: Rams 20, Seahawks 10.
The Seahawks opened the second half with an inspiring kick-off return to mid-field. The drive stalled and they settled for a 52-yard field goal by their impressive kicker Jason Myers. Rams 20-13.
Beyond that, neither team accomplished many post-second-half adjustments. The next six series of possessions (both teams three each) ended in punts. End of quarter: Rams 20, Seahawks 13.
With a 20-yard completion to Robert Woods at the tail end of the third quarter jump-starting things, the Rams Matt Gay successfully kicks another field goal to open the scoring in the final quarter of play. Rams 23-13.
Another exchange of punts continued. However, the Seahawks fumbled away theirs deep in Seahawks territory (Sam Ebukam forced, Micah Kiser recovered). Goff and the Rams took full advantage (scoring in four plays) with a 15-yard touchdown pass. The play was expertly-executed as Woods, positioned off-right, faked a block inside and found himself alone to score easily. The play unmistakably felt like the proverbial final nail in the coffin. Rams 30-13.
The Seahawks scored again in eight plays (a 28-yard pass to Freddie Swain set up a 12-yard D.K. Metcalf touchdown) late in-game when the Rams, playing a soft zone, looked confident of the end results. The Final Score: Rams 30, Seahawks 20.
Last Word on the Los Angeles Rams Impressive Victory
With injuries to Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and John Wolford, it’s unclear how far the Rams can go. However, it became very clear that the Los Angeles Rams defense now has a stout supporting cast around the best defensive player in the game. The status of Kupp may prove to be costly. The defense is still carrying the team as the offense plays inconsistently. And yet, if the offensive line can remain healthy throughout the playoffs, this team might emerge as NFC representatives. Yes, I still believe that the best overall team in the NFC heading towards the Super Bowl exited this game.