Surprising Rams Are 4-0 On The Road
November 9, 2017
The NFL is taking notice. Not only have the Los Angeles Rams become 'Road Warriors' as they decimated the New York Giants, 51-17, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey to remain undefeated at 4-0 on the road, they're now a serious playoff contender with eight games remaining on the 2017 NFL regular season schedule.
The NFC West first place Rams (6-2) dominated with big plays, dispelling any notion of coming out flat following their bye week. The defense made an immediate impact on the first drive of the game. Rams defensive end Aaron Donald forced a fumble near midfield while sacking Giant quarterback Eli Manning. Linebacker Connor Barwin recovered the fumble and the Rams never looked back.
"The preparation was that this is a very humbling league and every week takes great focus and concentration to come away with a win," said Ram Head Coach Sean McVay postgame. "They're excellent on defense, offense. They have a two-time Super Bowl champ in Eli Manning so we had to be ready to go. Our guys responded the right way and we're very happy to come away with the win."
L.A. second-year quarterback Jared Goff had his best game to date, completing 14/22 passes for 311 yards while throwing a career-best four touchdowns. He completed passes to eight different receivers and registered a 146.8 QB rating for the game, the ninth highest in Ram history.
Goff relied on running back Todd Gurley's two rushes for 45 yards to set up the first touchdown pass on their first drive. Tight end Tyler Higbee caught a nine-yard pass to give Los Angeles a 7-0 lead. Manning and the Giants responded with 14-play 67-yard drive ending with a five-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King to tie the game. After that it was all Rams... all day.
Following a drive cut short in the red zone Ram kicker Greg Zuerlein drilled a 27-yard field goal to start off the second quarter. Then linebacker Alec Ogletree forced a fumble by Giant running back Wayne Gallman that was recovered by Donald at the 50-yard line. Five plays later wide receiver Robert Woods caught a short slant, cut back and weaved 52 yards for an unlikely touchdown on a third-and-33 play.
It was Woods' first touchdown of the season despite currently leading the team in receptions. To illustrate how far the Rams have progressed under McVay and his staff: with Woods' score the Rams exceeded their entire point total for the 2016 season when they had the league's worst offense.
The dagger came on L.A.'s next possession. Goff threw a perfect 60-yard-plus bomb in the air, the longest in the NFL this season, to wide receiver Sammy Watkins who snared the ball with fully extended hands while running in full stride. Disregarding wet weather conditions, Watkins danced the last few yards into the end zone with the lethal blow. The Giants never recovered.
"I think it's about the players making great plays today. And I was really pleased with Jared's ability to spread the ball around. He made some great off-scheduled plays. Sammy made an excellent catch down the field. You talk about a wet ball, being able to track that and the type of throw. That was a big-time play," said McVay.
"Robert Woods on the screen and then being able to finish up with a short touchdown in the red zone off the play action. Just really pleased and happy for our players. Their preparation, their approach is showing up with their performances. I'm just glad to be around these guys." Needless to say, McVay's infectious positive attitude is a key ingredient in the team's success this season.
The second half continued as a bad blur for the Giants and a runaway train called the Rams. Gurley's one-yard touchdown capped off a seven-play 75-yard drive to open the third quarter. Following a Pharoh Cooper 30-yard punt return Gurley swept 44 yards down to the Giant one-yard line. Goff then hit Woods with a 4-yard touchdown pass for a 41-10 lead.
The prolonged agony continued for the Giants (1-7) when L.A. special teams player Cory Littleton blocked Brad Wing's punt giving the Rams the ball at the New York 18-yard line. Three plays later Gurley scooted 4-yards for his second touchdown of the game and 10th of the season. Zuerlein finally put the Giants out of their misery with his third field goal in the waning minutes.
"Cory has been a guy that's been a big time contributor for the special teams unit for the last couple years and I credit 'Bones' (Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) to that," said McVay. "We've got a lot of good people that are doing the right things, that are putting ourselves in a position to win these football games and have these outcomes."
The Rams host the 3-5 Houston Texans this Sunday at the Coliseum. The Texans will be without the services of rookie-sensation quarterback Deshaun Watson who suffered a torn ACL a few weeks ago. Watson's weekly performances were a highlight reel and he was on a record-setting pace having thrown 19 touchdown passes in his first seven NFL games.
The Rams will enter the game heavily favored to improve on their 6-2 record, the best start the team has enjoyed since the 2001 season when they started off 8-1. "We talk about that one day at a time approach and respecting that process," said McVay.
"Our team's got a lot of confidence right now, but we know that it's a week-to-week business and if you're not ready to go next Sunday at one o'clock when we play the Texans, you get humbled very quickly in this league. I think our players respect and acknowledge that."