Culver City Observer -

Rams are in a Prime Position in the NFC

 

November 26, 2020

Jevone Moore

The Rams defense, shown here making a play on a Giants running back last month has been very consistent in 2020.

A resilient offense, a rejuvenated

kicking game and a staunch defense

have vaulted the Los Angeles Rams

into prime position in the NFC with only

six games remaining on their 2020

regular season schedule. The Rams'

signature 27-24 Monday Night Football

road-win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

in Week 11 was reminiscent of

the team's path to the Super Bowl just

two seasons ago.

Improving their record to 7-3, the

outcome wasn't decided until the last

play of the game.For the seventh time

this season the defense sealed the victory

late in the game, snuffing out Tampa

Bay's final drive with an interception

by rookie safety Jordan Fuller in Rams

territory. That followed a game-winning

drive ending with a 40-yard field goal

by former Buccaneerkicker Matt Gay,

making his first appearance with the

Rams.

"Really, all three phases came up

in the clutch," said Rams head coach

Sean McVay. "I just love the way our

guys stay together. Matt Gay coming

through at the end. Jordan Fuller with

the interception. Loved the drive when

the offense was stalling a little bit.Our

defense played outstanding... They

continue to do such a great job of being

able to settle in."

The Rams have won both Monday

Night Football games this season and

are 4-1 lifetime in MNF during McVay's

reign. For quarterback Jared Goff, who

outdueled Bucs quarterback and legend

Tom Brady, it was his best primetime

outing since the Rams beat Patrick

Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs

in Week 11 during the 2018 season.

That 54-51 victory,the highest-scoring

and one of the great MNF games ever,

inspired the team to Super Bowl LVIII.

Tampa Bay's vaunted defense forced

the Rams to shelve their running game

and to rely on their aerial attack. Goff

and the offense responded with a solid

first-half performance and a 17-14

lead in thetight battle. It was the most

complete offensive effort of the season

as wide receivers Robert Woods and

Cooper Kupppunctured the Buc's secondary

combined with the finest season-

effort by the offensive line.

"They did a really good job stopping

the run," said Goff about the Bucs defense,

"I don't think that was our plan

but with what they were doing defensively,

giving us some opportunities

in the pass game, we had some stuff

available for us. As close as it was, we

feel like we should have broken it up

even more."

Another a critical ingredient: first-career

touchdown receptions by rookies

Van Jefferson and Cam Akers that

justified the team's draft selections in

April. Coincidentally, Akers (52nd, Florida

State) and Jefferson (57th, Florida),

were both drafted in Round 2. Jefferson

caught a 7-yard scoring pass late

in the second quarter to tie the game

at 14-14, while Akers caught a 4-yard

touchdown to put the Rams ahead, 24-

17, late in the third quarter.

"For both of those rookies to have

touchdown catches where that's a

tough defense to punch it in the red

zone was huge for them. I was very

pleased with those guys," said McVay.

"Also tonight Fuller was outstanding.

That's a great offense that can beat

you in a variety of ways. He shows up

in a big way in crunch time. Made the

big play we expect him to be able to

make. He was awesome."

Fuller, who was drafted in Round 6

and 199th overall, had two interceptions

against Brady. The Rams pressure

defense forced Brady into his second

worst quarterback game-rating of

the season. Fuller's second interception

came with 1:57 remaining in regulation.

"I was just reading the quarterback's

eyes, keep going out there and I

was able to go get it," said Fuller.

"It means a lot just being able to

compete against one of the best quarterbacks

of all time, something I don't

take lightly. Something this defense

doesn't take lightly at all... The win was

more important to me than the interception.

Going on this plane with a "W",

the locker room's electric right now. Its

just fun being out here. I can't minimize

that. It's really, really fun."

Woods and Kupps' total receptions

marked the first time in the franchise's

history that two receivers caught 10

plus passes in the same game. Woods

caught 12 passes of 15 targets for 130

yards and one touchdown, including

two crucial receptions to begin the

game-winning drive. Kupp caught 11

passes of 13 targets for 145 yards,

including a fine 19-yard sideline catch

that set up the game-winning field goal.

Started fast going on our first drive

and move the ball downfield, stay in

rhythm with Jared. Our line protected

really really well. Joe Noteboom had a

great game at left tackle," said Woods,

who caught a 4-yard touchdown pass

on the Rams opening drive of the

game. "They stopped our running

game pretty well, so our receivers and

our passing game had to play."

Goff completed 39 of 51 passes

for 376 yards, threw three touchdown

passes but also two interceptions, both

coming when the Rams had a chance

to pad the lead in the second half. The

39 total completionswas one off the

Monday Night Football record for pass

completions. Of concern is Goff's 13

turnovers this season, eight interceptions

and six fumbles, one that he recovered.

"We're versatile. We've been running

the ball really well all year and

they (Tampa Bay) were doing a good

job stopping the run. It's one of the

best run defenses in the league. I had

to throw it around a little bit, and we

did a great job," said Goff. "We kind of

fumbled it away a little bit at the end

there. Then making that drive at the

end shows who we are... and to get

the interception. That sequence right

there shows who we are and what

we're made of," said Goff.

McVay: "I thought Jared just continued

to demonstrate resilience. I loved

that fact that he was outstanding from

the jump. We had the one little mistake

where we threw the interception on the

screen. But what did he do? He just

kept competing. ... A lot of the things

that you saw us have trouble against

Miami, this was a defense that did

some very similar things. And Jared

handled it beautifully tonight and I was

very proud of him."

The Rams have a short week to prepare

for the Division rival San Francisco

49ers, who won the first encounter

at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara earlier

this season during Week 6. Goff and

the offense had a subpar game after

failing to capitalize on excellent opportunities

to fall behind 21-6 in the first

half. "After that game we had a good

reflection on it as far as what we wanted

to do," said Goff."We need to come

out with a little more juice. Again, we

came out a little flat... We'll be bringing

a lot of energy."

The Rams currently have a 32-0

record after leading at halftime of Mc-

Vay's 40 total wins with the team. He

semi-jokingly responded to that referencefollowing

Monday Night's win:

"You guys have got to stop saying that.

Don't jinx us. Don't' say it anymore.

Jevone Moore

Rams quarterback Jared Goff, shown here throwing a pass against the New York Giants last month, completed 39 passes against Tampa Bay last Monday night. The Rams battle the 49ers Sunday at SoFi Stadium

Please."

"I'm proud of these guys. I love this

team. I love how connected they are.

"It's a great win but... you got to hit the

reset button. We've got to continue to

improve and now it's about figuring out

how we get our eighth win against a

very tough team that is well-coached.

They got some guys back and it's going

to be a great challenge."

 

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