Rams’ rejuvenated offense makes an encore in victory over Seahawks
A playoff atmosphere permeated the Coliseum on Sunday — and with good reason.
Each of the Rams’ remaining games is essentially an elimination game as they attempt to make a run to a third consecutive postseason berth.
Coach Sean McVay felt it in the stadium before his team played the Seattle Seahawks.
“There was a buzz even just walking out,” he said.
The Rams stayed in the hunt for a third consecutive playoff appearance by defeating the Seahawks 28-12 before a crowd of 71,501.
Jared Goff passed for two touchdowns, Malcolm Brown and Todd Gurley rushed for touchdowns, and the defense neutralized Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson as the Rams improved to 8-5.
The Rams survived interceptions on consecutive third-quarter series, including one that was returned for a touchdown, and a blocked field-goal attempt thanks to a defense that has surrendered only a touchdown and two field goals in the last two games.
“It’s taken us a little while to get there, but I believe we’re hitting our stride at the right time,” safety Eric Weddle said.
The Rams’ victory does not affect their standing much in the NFC West.
Against the Seahawks, the Rams looked like the team Sean McVay coached last year. But they still might need some help from the Chargers to make the playoffs.
San Francisco bounced back from a narrow loss to Baltimore and improved to 11-2 with a 48-46 last-second victory at New Orleans on Sunday. The Seahawks are 10-3.
But the Rams avoided falling off the pace for a possible NFC wild-card spot. They are chasing Minnesota (9-4), which defeated Detroit 20-7 on Sunday.
The Rams play the Cowboys next Sunday at Dallas, and then face the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium before concluding the season against Arizona at the Coliseum. The Rams probably need to win all of their games — and receive help from Vikings opponents — to secure a wild-card spot.
“We know what’s at stake,” edge rusher Dante Fowler said. “I mean, it’s no secret.”
Neither is the Rams’ mission.
“It’s more must-wins the rest of the way,” Weddle said. “We kept our season alive, and we’ve got to keep that energy.”
The Rams’ performance was uneven at times Sunday. But it was far better than the last time they played at the Coliseum. Two weeks ago, fans booed them during a 45-6 rout by the Ravens on “Monday Night Football.”
“That’s as bad as you can really get beat — on ‘Monday Night Football’ at home,” said Goff, who completed 22 of 31 passes for 293 yards, “and we’ve come back from that and shown that we do have some fight to us.”
The Rams went into Sunday’s game coming off last week’s 34-7 victory over the Cardinals. It was a win that showcased what appeared to be the rejuvenation of an offense that featured heavy doses of Gurley, play-action passes by Goff, and career performances by Woods and tight end Tyler Higbee.
On Sunday, the Rams picked up where they left off, building a 21-3 halftime lead on Brown’s short touchdown run and Goff’s scoring passes to Woods and Cooper Kupp. The Seahawks scored on Quandre Diggs’ 55-yard interception return, but the Rams put together a 95-yard drive that Gurley capped with a touchdown run that featured the stiff-arm move he used so effectively in 2017 and 2018.
“Vintage Todd,” according to Goff.
“He’s a bad man,” Goff said. “That’s what I told him. He’s a bad dude.”
Gurley rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown in 23 carries. He also caught four passes for 34 yards.
Higbee caught seven passes for 116 yards, and Woods had seven catches for 98.
Jimmy Garoppolo passed for four touchdowns and Robbie Gould kicked a field goal as time expired to lift the 49ers to a 48-46 win over the Saints.
The defense made it easy for Goff and the offense by preventing the Seahawks’ offense from scoring a touchdown. That had not happened to Seattle since the 2017 opener against Green Bay.
“They played great,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of the Rams. “They did just what they wanted to do.”
On Oct.3 at Seattle, Wilson torched the Rams for four touchdown passes in a 30-29 victory. But he faced a different defense Sunday, one that no longer featured cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib — who were traded — and now includes star cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
On Sunday, Wilson completed 22 of 36 passes for 245 yards with an interception. Linebacker Samson Ebukam sacked him twice, and Fowler and lineman Aaron Donald each had 11/2 sacks.
“They got up early, made some plays in the second half on defense, and stopped us on third down when they needed to,” Wilson said.
Ebukam said facing Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and Wilson — all dual threats — in consecutive weeks rather than scattered throughout the schedule helped the Rams.
Behind an offensive barrage led by Philip Rivers and Austin Ekeler, the Chargers had little difficulty dominating in a 45-10 win over the Jaguars.
Gurley said this past week that the Rams were “scratching” to get into the playoffs.
“We’re still scratching,” he said Sunday.
McVay and his players refused to look ahead, even to next Sunday’s game against the Cowboys. All they can do, they reiterated, is continue to win.
“We’ll see,” McVay said, “if we can keep things rolling.”
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