Rams are in a Prime Position in the NFC
November 26, 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
"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
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.
"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."