Rams beat Seahawks, now in 3-way tie for first

A swaggering defense and SoFi Stadium's home-field advantage has elevated the Los Angeles Rams into a three-way tie for first place in the NFC West. The 23-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday gives the Rams a perfect 4-0 record in the House That Stan Built and a 6-3 record to begin the second half of the NFL season. Looming on the horizon is a Monday Night Football date with the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.

The major downside to the Rams win was a grade-3 MCL and PCL tear to offensive left tackle Andrew Whitworth left knee. He will miss six to eight weeks and will be replaced by Joe Noteboom, who was activated last week after rehabilitating a calf injury that incurred in Week 2. Rams quarterback Jared Goff said Whitworth's words while being carted off the field in the second quarter were: "Let's go. Finish the game. Go get a win."

"We were all worried it was for sure going to be season ending, and that's not going to be the case," said Rams head coach Sean McVay about Whitworth's injury. "But the thing that's so special about this guy, the first thing he's thinking about is how can he affect and influence the team in a different role and excited about attacking that opportunity."

Rams running back Malcolm Brown emphasized Whitworth's value to the team: "Big Whit being the old guy on the team and the veteran... a guy like that, it's a little more emotional. I know he's going to come back with whatever leadership he has to come back with... So, I'm definitely praying for him, hoping for the best."

Another blow was safety Taylor Rapp suffering a grade-2 MCL sprain. He's expected to be out for three to four weeks. Kicker Kai Forbath sustained a sprained ankle in only his second game with the team. All three were placed on injured reserve. McVay: "That's two big injuries when you look at Whitworth and Taylor Rapp, and really, really bummed for both those guys, because of what they mean to our team, but love the way they're handling it."

McVay addressed the kicking issue on Monday: "Austin (MacGinnis, who competed in Rams Training Camp) is going to get an opportunity. We are going to bring in Matt Gay (from the Indianapolis Colts practice squad). "I think he'll be able to do something with us on Saturday and then we'll see whether he or Austin ends up kicking for us against the Bucs."

The Monday Night clash in Tampa will tell quite a bit about the Rams status as they face quarterback Tom Brady and the Bucs. Tampa Bay has won four of their last five games and are currently one-half game behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. The Saints handily beat the Bucs both times this season. Tampa Bay also lost on the road to the Chicago Bears, 20-19, in Week 5, while the Rams beat the Bears, 24-10, two weeks later at SoFi Stadium.

The Buccaneers rebounded against the Carolina Panthers this past Sunday, 46-23, just one week after being humiliated by the Saints, 38-3. Brady completed 28-39 passes for 341 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and one sack against the Panthers. He's currently ranked 13th in the NFL's QB Rating and has thrown 23 touchdowns, seven interceptions and has been sacked 14 times for the season.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff rebounded against the Seahawks following a poor performance at Miami two weeks ago. He completed 27 of 37 passes for 302 yards but didn't throw for a touchdown and was sacked three times. Goff has 13 touchdown passes, six interceptions and 13 sacks this season. He will face further pressure from the Tampa Bay defense that is ranked third in the league, just behind the second-ranked Rams defense.

The Bucs have 29 quarterback sacks, three behind the league-leading Pittsburgh Steelers. Goff and his front line will be under heavy pressure the entire Monday Night matchup. He has committed 13 turnovers this season, mostly under stress. Left tackle Joe Noteboom substituted quite well for Whitworth against the Seahawk's defensive right side and will need to have a similar performance against Tampa Bay's defensive front.

Goff got the Rams off to a great start against Seattle's defense (the worst in the league) by scoring on the team's first three drives to take a 17-7 lead in the second quarter. Seahawk kicker Jason Myers kicked two field goals to cut the lead to 17-13, including a 61-yarder just before halftime. Malcolm Brown scored on a one-yard touchdown in the third quarter before Myers kicked a field goal in the last minute of the game for the final score.

Goff: "I think in that fourth quarter, if we were able to finish those drives with a touchdown it would be a much different outcome and we'd be, you know, really, really happy about it. We are happy about the win but being able to score 35 there instead of 23 would have been tremendous."

The Rams used their running back trio to attack Seattle. Darrell Henderson's one-yard push retook the lead at 10-7 in the first quarter. Brown rushed for a 7-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Cam Akers led the team with 10 rushing attempts for 38 yards. Brown had 33 yards on 6 carries and Henderson gained 28 yards on seven carries.

"All of us, we have our different talents and styles. And to be able to set the pace as a running back group, get out there, stay fresh... Got to give a huge shoutout to big dogs up front. They made it really easy for us and we were able to get it done," said Brown.

It was the Rams defense that secured the victory from the start. They constantly disrupted Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, sacking him six times. Wilson also threw two interceptions, both by cornerback Darious Williams. Williams could have had three, including one pick-six that was negated when outside linebacker Leonard Floyd was called for offsides. Floyd more than made up for that by sacking Wilson three times and forcing two tackles for loss.

Once again it was all possible due to the incredible pressure applied by defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the secondary play of cornerback Jalen Ramsey throughout the game. Their play distorts any game stats that define defense in the NFL. "I feel confident in this team and this defense. We've just been going out and executing at a high level," said Floyd.

Today me and T-Lew (Terrell Lewis), man, we made some plays to help us win and it was beautiful," continued Floyd. Lewis had two quarterback sacks and defensive tackle Michael Brockers added one. "Definitely, we can get to the quarterback, we can cause a lot of stress on the quarterback. And we're looking forward to going to Tampa, just building off of this and executing at another high level."


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