Welcome back, Los Angeles Rams' playoff chances.
Los Angeles defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-12 in Sunday's NFC West showdown at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and improved to 8-5 with its second consecutive win. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley led the way and ensured their team is just one game behind the 9-4 Minnesota Vikings for the final NFC wild-card spot.
As for Seattle, it is 10-3 after its five-game winning streak came to an end and one game behind the 11-2 San Francisco 49ers in the division race.
Notable Fantasy Stats
- LAR QB Jared Goff: 22-of-31 passing for 293 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions
- LAR RB Todd Gurley: 23 carries for 79 yards and one touchdown; four catches for 34 yards
- LAR TE Tyler Higbee: seven catches for 116 yards
- LAR WR Robert Woods: seven catches for 98 yards and one touchdown
- LAR WR Cooper Kupp: four catches for 45 yards and one touchdown
- SEA QB Russell Wilson: 22-of-36 for 245 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception
- SEA RB Chris Carson: 15 carries for 76 yards; three catches for 15 yards
Rams Offense Hitting Its Stride Just in Time
Few offensive units had higher expectations heading into the season than Los Angeles' seeing as how it was coming off a Super Bowl appearance and featured the likes of Goff, Gurley, Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods.
However, the Rams managed just 35 total points during a 1-2 November against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens and appeared well on the way to a lost season.
So much for that.
The defending NFC champions exploded for 34 points in a blowout win over the Arizona Cardinals last time out with head coach Sean McVay telling reporters "me not being an idiot" and getting Gurley more involved helped turn things around. It was more of the same out of the gates against the Seahawks with three touchdown drives of more than 70 yards in the first half.
Gurley ran hard between the tackles, Goff spread the ball around and the game appeared over by halftime. It wasn't, though, as Goff threw two interceptions, including a pick-six, to Quandre Diggs on Los Angeles' first two possessions in the third quarter before Seattle blocked a chip-shot Greg Zuerlein field goal to keep momentum.
Just when it seemed as if Seattle would battle back, the Rams essentially ended the game by marching 95 yards on seven plays. Three of them were wide receiver reverses, as McVay kept Seattle guessing before Gurley punched it in with a powerful stiff arm.
The Rams are back in the playoff picture, and it can largely be traced back to an offensive resurgence.
Rashaad Penny Injury Saps Seattle of Explosiveness
Seattle handled the Minnesota Vikings in its last game with the one-two punch of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny out of the backfield.
It was a nearly unstoppable combination with Carson using powerful runs between the tackles and Penny getting out in space on outside carries and screens. It also helped neutralize Seattle's biggest weakness—an offensive line that is a mere 24th in the league in pass protection, per Football Outsiders.
The Seahawks appeared to be well on their way to more success with the same formula against the Rams when they hit Penny for a screen pass and first down on their opening possession, but he was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a knee injury he suffered on the play.
The offense never found the end zone without him.
It had every opportunity to not only get back in the game but also seize control of it in the second half when the Rams stalled with the turnovers and blocked kick, but the offensive line couldn't protect Russell Wilson against Aaron Donald and Co. Los Angeles finished with five sacks and didn't have to worry about Penny capitalizing on pressure by sneaking out of the backfield.
Seattle's offense looked like a completely different unit without its second-year playmaker and left reason for concern moving into the season's stretch run.
Both teams are on the road for Week 15. The Seahawks face the Carolina Panthers, while the Rams are at the Dallas Cowboys.
Stick to Football is live from the SEC Championship! Shaun Alexander joined us on set for a great show from Atlanta.