Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Rams Set to Battle Seattle

Team Hopes to Avoid Letdown after Thrilling Win Over Vikings

 

October 4, 2018



Los Angeles, you have a damn good football team.

It took only 21 games for the once-ridiculed Los Angeles Rams to not only become an elite NFL team but also evolve into the most entertaining under second-year Head Coach Sean McVay.

The first-place Rams are the only NFC team remaining with a perfect 4-0 record this season.

"Great team win for us right there against a really tough opponent. Can't say enough about the performance of Jared Goff tonight,” said McVay after the Rams beat the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, Nov. 27. “[Ndamukong] Suh and Aaron [Donald] had big time sacks that ended up leading to big stops for us.

“We'll take it. It's a tough, hard-earned win.”

The thrilling, 38-31 victory over the determined Vikings was the coming-out party the team was looking to throw since the day they returned to Los Angeles.

Center stage, quarterback Jared Goff blossomed before 72,027 fans in the L.A. Coliseum, throwing a career-high five touchdowns while registering a perfect quarterback ranking of 158.3 for the game.

"It felt pretty good all night. I thought we did a great job protecting,” said an appreciative Goff. “Just keeping me upright and anytime that happens, we've got such good guys on the outside and try to get the ball in their hands and let them make plays.

“Tonight, we were able to do that."

Balanced Offensive Attack

The Rams rallied to take a 28-20 halftime lead on the laser-like throwing arm of Goff and a supporting cast as versatile as a Swiss Army knife.

Touchdown passes to wide receivers Cooper Kupp (twice), Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and running back Todd Gurley were crowd-pleasers. Goff completed 26/33 passes for 465 yards but his best moment might have been jump-bumping McVay following a touchdown bomb to Kupp.

Kupp had a career day with nine receptions on 11 targets for 162 yards. Goff constantly hit Kupp on multiple routes with narrow windows.

Perhaps most inspiring was a 70-yard deep pass to Kupp, who caught it in stride while sprinting along the home team sideline and into the end zone. The crowd came to its feet and the buzz continued throughout the rest of the game.

“That’s another one that Jared was just able to put it out there perfectly,” said Kupp. “The way that he was able to put that out there, just kept me in stride. It’s huge.

“He was doing that all night, Kupp said. “Jared was able to put the ball exactly where he wanted and made it really easy on us as receivers.”

Goff also placed a perfect pass to Kupp into the right corner of the end zone over two Viking defenders that had the crowd in awe.

“I think the one throw to Kupp in the back of the end zone was unbelievable,” said McVay. “It's almost like you're throwing it away and Cooper did a great job saving them a little bit of room and Jared put it in about a six-inch box that he could only fit it into.”

It was Goff’s 60-yard spiraling dart to Cooks for a 47-yard TD just before the first half ended that brought the house down. The precision and execution from the deep-threat duo was worth the price of admission. It’s a lethal combination that should make opposing defensive coordinators uneasy for quite some time.

Robert Woods, five catches for 101 yards, was the third Ram receiver to gain over 100 yards for the game. Cooks caught seven passes for 116 yards. Gurley also had four receptions for 73 yards to add to his 83 yards rushing on 17 carries.

Defense to the Rescue

It was the same defense that was scorched by quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Vikings in their first three possessions of the game that managed to come up with the game-saver at the end.

The Vikings had a third down at the Los Angeles 14-yard line when Suh sacked Cousins for an 8-yard loss, forcing kicker Dan Bailey to kick a 40-yard field goal for three points.

On Minnesota’s last drive of the game, Donald sacked Cousins for another 8-yard loss. Rookie defensive end John Franklin-Myers then sacked Cousins for a final time, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Suh.

Game over.

Ficken missed two of three field goal attempts while filling in for injured Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, who is expected to return to the team soon. Ficken was released by the Rams Oct. 2 and the team signed veteran kicker Cairo Santos to replace him until Zuerlein’s return.

At press time, the Rams were getting ready to fly north to battle a divisional foe, the Seattle Seahawks, on Oct. 7.

The Rams lost at home to the Seahawks, 16-10, last October before crushing them at Seattle in December, 42-7.

Seattle is lead by Head Coach Pete Carroll, in his eighth year with the team. The offense features quarterback Russell Wilson, who has completed 76 of 121 passes this season for seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

Chris Carson is Seattle’s leading rusher with 177 yards on 45 carries while Tyler Lockett leads Seattle in receiving with 249 yards on 17 receptions.

 

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