As Sean McVay arrived for a news conference Monday, the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings were minutes away from kicking off on “Monday Night Football.”
When asked, the Rams’ coach showed no rooting interest in a game that had playoff ramifications for his team regardless of the outcome.
The Rams, coming off Sunday’s 34-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, trail the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West. More realistically, they are trying to catch the Vikings in the race for an NFC wild-card spot.
The Seahawks helped the Rams out, beating the Vikings 37-30. Minnesota (8-4) now sits only one game ahead of the Rams, with home games ahead against the Detroit Lions (3-8-1), Green Bay Packers (9-3) and Chicago Bears (6-6) and a Dec. 15 game at the Chargers (4-8).
Rams players know they probably must win their remaining four games — against the Seahawks (10-2), Dallas Cowboys (6-6), 49ers (10-2) and Cardinals (3-8-1) — to have a chance for a third consecutive playoff appearance and a return to the Super Bowl.
“You get what you deserve in this league,” McVay said. “And I think for our guys, all we can control is trying to play really good football this last quarter of the season.
“And if that’s enough, it will work itself out. And if not, our guys are the type of guys that are going to continue to compete.”
The Rams’ impressive victory over the Cardinals improved their record to 7-5, and encouraged a team that six days earlier had suffered a 45-6 drubbing by the Baltimore Ravens.
“This is a pretty good start,” cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman said Sunday. “If some teams lose and we keep winning, some things can happen.”
To achieve their goal, the Rams will require consistently productive performances from quarterback Jared Goff and the offense.
Goff passed for 424 yards and two touchdowns, running back Todd Gurley rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown, and receiver Robert Woods and tight end Tyler Higbee had career-best games as the Rams produced a season-best 549 yards against the Cardinals.
“You see teams, this late in the year, coming off a loss like we had — you really kind of see them die off the rest of the season and wait for their next opportunity the next year to regroup,” veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth said Monday. “To show the fight and mentality, that we’re not done and we have more to go and there‘s more in us than that, it’s something you commend as a team and you realize, man, let’s bottle that up and continue it.”
The Rams won games early in the season with their talent, Whitworth said. Sunday’s victory was the first time they won with execution from every position group.
“That’s really what gives you the positive mentality of, ‘Hey, you know what, all right, this is what we should play like,’ ” Whitworth said.
The Rams defense rebounded from its poor showing against the Ravens and shut down the Cardinals. Another inspired performance probably will be needed against the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson. In a 30-29 loss to the Seahawks in October, the defense did not hold up its end, linebacker Clay Matthews said.
“Our offense played fantastic that game,” he said. “Our defense needs to play better than last time.”
Kick returner JoJo Natson suffered a hamstring injury that will sideline him four to six weeks. “We’ll have some further updates on what exactly that means in terms of his status and how we’ll exactly handle that,” McVay said. Rookie running back Darrell Henderson could return kickoffs and rookie receiver Nsimba Webster could return punts, McVay said. … Tight end Gerald Everett (knee), who sat out against the Cardinals, and offensive lineman Rob Havenstein (knee), who has not played the last three games, are making progress and regarded as day to day, McVay said. ... Does McVay want Goff blocking, as he did Sunday when the quarterback attempted to take on Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson on a 48-yard gain by receiver Robert Woods? “Hell yeah. Go make that block, man,” McVay said, laughing, before adding, “Peterson got him good around the neck right there, but he ended up getting that block and Robert went inside.”