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Rams

What we learned from the Rams’ 38-31 victory over the Minnesota Vikings

The offensive line is enabling Jared Goff to thrive

It’s easy to get caught up in the gaudy statistics.

Goff is not just completing easy passes. He is making difficult throws, and doing it with pinpoint accuracy.

But Goff would not be thriving without superior protection.

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Left tackle Andrew Whitworth got beat off the edge for a sack, but Goff was otherwise untouched en route to passing for five touchdowns.

Whitworth, left guard Rodger Saffold, center John Sullivan, right guard Austin Blythe and right tackle Rob Havenstein are the bedrock of the Rams’ 4-0 start.

Sean McVay masterfully creates mismatches

There is a reason running back Todd Gurley beat linebacker Anthony Barr for a wide-open touchdown early in the game.

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It’s similar to why Cooper Kupp was able to cross the entire field and then turn toward the end zone with Barr giving chase before Goff dropped in a perfect pass for a 70-yard touchdown.

McVay, the play-caller, recognizes vulnerabilities and pounces.

It’s a players’ game. They deserve all the credit for executing against fellow superior athletes.

But McVay is expertly orchestrating the moves.

Aaron Donald is prescient

Donald, the Rams’ $135-million defensive tackle, had said there was no cause for alarm.

No sacks in the first three games?

“It’s going to come,” he said early in the week, “so I ain’t worried.”

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Donald got close to Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins several times before he finally sacked him early in the fourth quarter.

Donald came through with another sack with just more than two minutes left in the game.

Ndamukong Suh and rookie John Franklin-Myers also had sacks for the Rams.

Marcus Peters is tough

Four days after he left the Coliseum locker room with a protective plastic boot on his right leg because of a calf strain, Peters started against the Vikings.

It was not vintage Peters: He got beat for a touchdown and several other completions.

But Peters was determined to be in a lineup that was already shorthanded without injured cornerback Aqib Talib. His presence provided an emotional lift and his effort never wavered for a defense that came through when the Rams needed it most.

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The kicking game could be cause for concern

It was fun to see Johnny Hekker throw deep on a fake-punt pass that fell incomplete.

But the Rams would not have attempted the play if McVay had confidence that Sam Ficken could make a 53-yard field-goal attempt a la the injured Greg Zuerlein.

Ficken, who missed a 46-yard attempt against the Chargers, converted from 34 yards against the Vikings in the third quarter.

But he also missed from 28 yards in the fourth.

Instead of the Rams increasing their lead to 41-28, the miss enabled the Vikings to drive for a field goal that pulled them to within seven points with 3 minutes 46 seconds left.


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