GET ON THE HORN: Rams Top Tom-Led Tampa, Now Lead NFC Westcsudhbulletin November 26, 2020 0 COMMENTS
Anytime you get a chance to tackle Tom Brady, you don’t let the opportunity slip away. Just ask Michael Brockers, seen here bear-hugging Brady last Monday night. Photo by Los Angeles Rams.
LOS ANGELES 27, TAMPA BAY 24
Shiver me timbers! After a statement win against Seattle one week earlier, the Los Angeles Rams (7-3) came into Tampa Bay and showed that their recent success and performance was not a fluke, knocking off the Buccaneers (7-4) by a final score of 27-24. The Rams have taken a hold of first place in the NFC West (holding the tiebreaker over the Seahawks).
OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE –
The Rams offensive performances on the road have been especially good, and Monday night was no different. After the defense forced Tom Brady and the Bucs to punt on their first drive, the Rams drove 80 yards on 13 plays and got the opening score, capped off by a Jared Goff pass to Robert Woods from four yards out. Tampa Bay would respond twice before the Rams scored again, this time tying the score on rookie Van Jefferson’s 7-yard catch, his first career touchdown grab, completing another long drive (8 plays, 75 yards). With about a minute left in the half, newly announced starting kicker Matt Gay, converted a 38-yard field goal to give the Rams a 17-14 lead. Gay had previously played in Tampa Bay just a season ago but was waived by the Bucs in September. The second half play started poorly following a Goff interception and a Gay missed field goal on the first two drives in the third quarter. Luckily, the Bucs were only able to convert three points off of the two miscues and following a Brady interception midway through the quarter, Goff led a short, 37-yard drive and completed his third touchdown pass of the night to rookie Cam Akers from four yards out, gifting Akers his first career touchdown in the NFL. Following the lead changing score, both teams had the ball three times each with every drive ending with a punt. Tampa Bay would turn the ball over on downs right around midfield, giving the Rams excellent field position and a chance to cushion the lead. On just three plays during the drive, Goff fumbled the snap, took a delay of game penalty and promptly threw an interception to which Brady and the Bucs scored on their following drive to tie the game again seven plays and 44 yards later.
—- I mentioned in the Week 11 preview that the G.O.T.H Hot Take for this game focused on the special teams play and that whichever kicker was named the Rams starter was going to be the difference and would kick the game-winning field goal to push Los Angeles to 7-3. Okay, back to it—-
The offense got the ball back with about four minutes left and Goff converted two big plays to Woods on a 23-yard gainer and a 19-yard completion to Cooper Kupp to get the Rams to the Buccaneers 24-yard line. Following a short run and some incompletions, the Rams were forced to kick from about 40 yards out. With ice in his veins, Gay converted and broke the tie, giving the Rams a three-point lead with about two minutes remaining. This had all the makings for a Tom Brady, game-winning drive which would tarnish any positives that came out of the Rams performance. Luckily, the Rams defense ended any hope of a comeback after a late interception of Brady completed another Monday Night Football classic.
STATS THAT MATTER –
For the third straight game, Goff threw for over 300 yards, throwing a season-high 376 yards. He completed 39 of his 51 pass attempts, along with three touchdowns. While he did throw for two interceptions, Goff had great protection all night, proving the Rams offensive line can play without veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth in the lineup. The O-line did not allow the potent Buccaneers defense to sack Goff and only allowed just three quarterback hits, none of which resulted in any issues for the offense. As expected, the running game was very quiet, due to the Bucs number one ranked defense, and only produced 37 rushing yards combined with Malcolm Brown accounting for 20 of those yards. Evident from Goff’s passing numbers, Woods and Kupp showed their strength and led the receivers with a combined 23 catches for 275 receiving yards and one touchdown from Woods. They are the first Rams wide receiver pairing to catch at least 10 passes each and the fourth teammate duo to catch at least 11 passes for 130 yards in the same game, and the first time since Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter did it for the Houston Texans in 2010. Kicker Matt Gay performed well in his first appearance converting all three of his extra point attempts and two of his three field goal attempts with the final kick of the night being the game winner. From an accolade standpoint, Robert Woods was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career and is the first Rams wide receiver to win the award since Isaac Bruce in 2002 and the fifth Rams player this season to win a weekly award, joining Leonard Floyd, Aaron Donald, Johnny Hekker and Micah Kiser.
Another challenge was presented to the Mob Squad for the second consecutive week as the stacked Buccaneers lineup was staring right in their face. After a slow first drive, Brady and company produced on their next two drives, going for 75 and 68 yards, respectively. A 9-yard pass to Mike Evans tied the game early and following a Rams punt, a Leonard Fournette 2-yard rush gave Tampa Bay the lead. The Rams would regain the lead and go into the half up by three. Following Goff’s first interception, kicker Ryan Succop converted a 38-yard field goal to tie the game once again. The second offensive drive in the third quarter for the Rams ended with a missed field goal and gave Brady a chance to regain control of the game. After a 10-yard completion to Antonio Brown, Brady tried to hit Chris Godwin deep down the middle of the field but threw it right into the hands of Rams safety Jordan Fuller instead. Five plays later, the Rams offense regained the lead 24-17. Brady was not yet done and with about four minutes left in the game found Godwin, this time, for a 13-yard touchdown and tied the game at 24. Following Gay’s go-ahead field goal, the Rams defense headed back onto the field with the pressure to stop another Brady comeback. Pressure be damned as, once again, Fuller picked off Brady for the second time and sealed the victory for the Rams. The irony of Fuller picking off Brady twice had to do with the fact that both men were selected with the 199th pick in their drafts, 20 years apart.
STATS THAT MATTER –
Tell me if you have heard this before: Aaron Donald was held to zero tackles in a game. Yes, it happened again. Last week, Donald did not account for any tackles against Seattle and for the second straight week he was held without a tackle against Tampa Bay. While Donald believes he is not playing ‘bad football’ he did not hold back in an interview with ESPN saying that the officiating missed a lot of obvious holding calls. Despite Donald’s performance, or lack thereof, the Rams defense once again made the big plays and stifled another formidable offensive opponent. For the eighth time, and fourth primetime game, this season, Brady was held to under 300 yards passing finishing with 216 with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Additionally, according to NFL Research, Brady finished 0-6 with two interceptions on deep passes and is now 0-19 on deep passes in his last four games. The run game on the Tampa Bay sideline was just as quiet as the Rams, accounting for just 42 total yards with the lone touchdown coming from Fournette. Brown, Godwin and Evans combined for 20 catches and 159 total yards receiving with the two touchdowns coming from Godwin and Evans. Five players totaled six tackles each and Samson Ebukam was the only player to actually earn a sack on Brady and on the night itself. As a whole, Los Angeles has had the best defense in football since Week 4, ranking first in points per game (16.2), yards per game (258.3), yards per play (4.3), passing yards per game (172.8) and yards per attempts (5.9).
FINAL THOUGHTS –
The Rams have proven they can compete on the biggest of stages and find different ways to win a ballgame. With four of their final six games in the regular season coming against division rivals, the Rams are playing their best football at the perfect time.
Rookies Running Rampant
As tweeted by NFL Research, the Rams are the first team to have two rookies score their first touchdown and another rookie have his first interception in a game in Week 10 or later since the 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers — in that same year, the Steelers went on to win Super Bowl IX.
Score, Lead, Hold, Repeat
The Rams now rank 2nd in opening-drive points this season and have done so by putting pressure on their opponents from the get-go. They scored on their opening offensive drives the last two weeks and in the two weeks prior scored on their second drives of the games against Miami and Chicago. In 10 games, they have now scored 37 points on their opening drive. Additionally, the Rams are a perfect 32-0 when they have the lead at half under Sean McVay. The remarkable streak is something the rest of the NFL cannot compare to, as all other 31 teams have at least two losses when leading at the half in the same time span the Rams have held their dominance.
Speaking of Streaks
The (B-B-B-Bad to the) Bone jerseys were presented before the season started and many Rams fans, and NFL fans in general, did not find the ‘off-white’ jersey to be anything more than an eye sore. Say what you will, but the Rams are a perfect 4-0 when they have worn the grayish looking designs, with wins over Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, and now, Tampa Bay. Based on the Rams tweet from September, they are expected to wear the jerseys three more times against Arizona, New York (Jets) and Seattle. Will the streak live on?
*Editor’s Note: The Rams tweet says the team wore their Bone jerseys against San Francisco on Oct. 18, however, Los Angeles changed to their Royal jerseys the week of the game per the 49ers request to wear all-white on Sunday Night Football*
Linebacker Micah Kiser injured his knee during Monday’s win and left the game early. The injury occurred on a tackle attempt where his leg was crushed under a pile of bodies. He is unlikely to play Sunday according to Sean McVay.
Tight end Tyler Higbee injured his elbow in the second half and left the game, however, is expected to be available by Sunday.
COMING UP –
The Rams will be back home in SoFi stadium Sunday afternoon where they will host their rival San Francisco 49ers (4-6). The 49ers are currently last in the NFC West and have had trouble with injuries to some of their star players. San Francisco is hopeful for some big names to return including Richard Sherman and Deebo Samuel. The Rams cannot take this game, or any of their remaining games, lightly playing in the toughest division in football. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PST on your local FOX station.
Tampa Bay’s schedule does not get any easier as they welcome Patrick Mahomes and the reigning Super Bowl Champion, Kansas City Chiefs (9-1). The Chiefs are coming off a 35-31 Sunday Night Football victory over their rival Las Vegas Raiders (6-4) and are looking to run away with the AFC West. The showdown of the two stud quarterbacks in Brady and Mahomes should be one of the best games this week. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:25 p.m. PST on CBS.