The Los Angeles Rams, the NFC’s sixth seed, are moving on to the Divisional Round. But for the Rams, winning came at a price.
Los Angeles lost star defensive tackle Aaron Donald and wide receiver Cooper Kupp to injury during the team’s 30-20 NFC Wild Card victory over the third-seeded Seattle Seahawks, as well as quarterback John Wolford, who was transferred to a nearby Seattle hospital via ambulance.
The Rams announced just before kickoff that starting quarterback Jared Goff would not play, and would be replaced by backup John Wolford.
Quarterback Jared Goff went 9/19 for 155 yards and 1 touchdown in relief of Wolford, and running back Cam Akers ran rampant over the Seahawks defence with 131 yards on 28 carries and 1 touchdown in the victory. Donald recorded 2 sacks and 3 tackles before leaving the game in the third quarter.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson struggled for the majority of the night, going 11/27 for 178 yards, with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. He had a 41% completion rate, his lowest of the season. DK Metcalf led the Seahawks’ receiving corps with 96 yards on 5 receptions and 2 touchdowns.
The Rams took the ball to start the game, and were able to muster one first down before being forced to punt. The Seahawks offence then took the field but went three-and-out, giving the ball back to the Rams. Wolford put the Rams in great field position after several completions to WR Cooper Kupp and runs by RB Cam Akers, but the Rams were forced to switch to Goff under center with six minutes remaining in the quarter as Wolford went down after a shoulder-to-helmet hit.
Goff was unable to build on the momentum that Wolford established, and the Rams settled for a 40-yard field goal from kicker Matt Gay. After both teams followed this up with unsuccessful drives, the score remained 3-0 for Los Angeles after the first quarter.
The Rams continued putting pressure on Russell Wilson in the second quarter, and after the Seahawks’ offence stalled again, frustration began mounting on the Seattle sideline. Multiple receivers could be seen expressing their emotions in an effort to light a spark. This seemed to be somewhat effective as Wilson led Seattle into Rams territory, paving way for a 50-yard field goal from Seattle kicker Jason Myers. With the successful field goal, Myers remained perfect on the year.
After Goff’s first four pass attempts fell incomplete, he finally threw a successful pass to Kupp, a 44-yard bomb, to put the Rams in field goal range. They could not find the end zone and were forced to kick the game’s third field goal, this time a 39-yarder from Gay to put the Rams back in front by 3.
The biggest play of the game thus far came midway through the second quarter, when Russell Wilson tried to force the ball to receiver DK Metcalf in traffic. The pass was intercepted by Rams’ cornerback Darious Williams and returned 42 yards to the end zone for a pick-six. After a successful convert from Gay, the Rams suddenly opened up a ten point lead, 13-3.
The Seahawks took it upon themselves to answer that, and they responded with a big play of their own. On second-and-eight at midfield, Wilson found Metcalf wide open past the Rams secondary, who had an easy jog to the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown to put Seattle back within 3.
Los Angeles found the end zone again with just under two minutes remaining in the half. On a drive highlighted by a 44-yard reception and 20-yard run by RB Cam Akers, the Rams made the score 20-10 after Akers rushed for a 5-yard touchdown. Los Angeles would take this ten point lead into the locker room at halftime.
First Half Stat Line
The Seahawks were zero-for-five on third down in the entire first half.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was held to just five completions in one half for the first time this season.
142 of the Rams’ 216 total yards in the first half were recorded by Cam Akers. (97 yards rushing, 45 receiving)
Darious Williams’ 42-yard pick six was the first defensive touchdown recorded by the Rams this season, and the first interception off a WR screen in the NFL this season.
The Rams have a 36-0 record when leading at halftime since Sean McVay became the team’s head coach in 2017.
Seahawks WR DK Metcalf runs into the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter of their NFC Wild Card matchup against the Rams. | Abbie Parr / NFL Network
The Seahawks got the ball and kick returner DJ Reed took the ball 58 yards on the kickoff return to begin the second half. As was the story for most of the first half, Wilson was unable to convert on this momentum and Seattle settled for a 52-yard field goal from Myers out of the gate.
Both teams struggled to gain any traction offensively throughout the first half of the third quarter. The Rams’ defence in particular was swarming as Wilson was visibly becoming frustrated with the lack of ability to move the ball.
The Seahawks survived a scare near the end of the second half as Wilson appeared to throw an interception to Rams’ safety John Johnson, but after review of the play it was determined that the ball skipped on the turf just prior to Johnson scooping it up, and Seattle punted the ball away. Los Angeles began to move the ball into Seattle territory at the end of the quarter, and entered the fourth quarter in the Seahawks’ zone.
The Rams added to their lead with just under 12 minutes remaining in the game, as Gay kicked a 36-yard field goal to put Los Angeles back up by 10.
Wilson and the Seahawks offence again could not move the ball downfield, and the Rams got the ball back. After a big stop by the Seattle defence on third-and-one, the Rams were forced to punt. But on the punt return from DJ Reed, the ball was punched out by Rams’ linebacker Samson Ebukam and recovered by the Rams. This led to an eventual 15-yard touchdown pass from Goff to Robert Woods to put the final nail in the coffin, extending the Rams lead to 30-13 and all but ending the Seahawks season.
Seattle did make a game of it with 2:28 remaining, as Wilson connected with Metcalf in the end zone for the second time, this time a 12-yard pass, to make it 30-20 after a successful convert. This would be as close as Seattle would come, and their season came to an end.
Second Half Stat Line
DJ Reed’s 58-yard kickoff return to begin the second half was the longest kickoff return from the Seahawks this season, and the longest given up by the Rams.
Cam Akers’ 131 total rushing yards on 28 carries was the most by a Rams rookie in a playoff game all-time.
The Rams top-rated defence recorded 45 tackles and 5 sacks throughout the game.
This was Seattle’s first home playoff loss since the 2004 NFC Wild Card. The loss snapped a 10-game home playoff game winning streak.
With the loss, Seattle’s season is over.
Los Angeles’ Divisional Round opponent is yet to be determined, and will be decided by the result of the New Orleans Saints/Chicago Bears game tomorrow. A Saints victory would match the Rams up with the top-seeded Green Bay Packers, while a Bears victory would see the Rams travel to Florida to visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Featured photo courtesy of ActionNetwork.com
Would you like to advertise with Game Changer Sports Network? We have the perfect opportunity for any and all businesses! Please contact Jake at Info@GameChangerSportsNetwork.com to discuss potential advertising space with us!