INGLEWOOD, Calif. — If one second captured how soundly the Los Angeles Rams beat the Arizona Cardinals, it was Odell Beckham Jr.’s completion to Cam Akers down the precise sideline.
Everything appeared to work for the Rams’ offense, even a receiver throwing deep to a operating again on a trick play that had proved troublesome to execute in windy circumstances in the course of the week of apply main as much as Monday evening’s wild-card playoff recreation.
It was additionally an illustration of how dominant the Rams’ defense was. Because as soon as Akers hauled in that 40-yard completion, Beckham had 12 extra passing yards than Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray had thrown for at that time of the sport.
This was practically three minutes into the third quarter, thoughts you.
By the time the ultimate whistle blew on the Rams’ 34-11 win, Murray had solely 134 passing yards, plus 6 speeding. The 183 whole yards Los Angeles allowed have been its fewest of the season, its fifth fewest in any recreation beneath coach Sean McVay and tied for third fewest by any group in a playoff recreation over the previous 10 seasons, in accordance with ESPN Stats & Information analysis.
It was the kind of efficiency that implies the Rams may have rather more than a preventing probability in the divisional spherical on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium towards seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and the No. 2 seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 p.m. ET, Fox), as troublesome as that matchup will probably be.
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“I think so,” McVay answered when requested postgame if that was the Rams’ greatest defensive efficiency of the season. “Being able to hold a really explosive offense like that, to be able to get a defensive touchdown, a couple turnovers — just so pleased with those guys and got a great challenge going against Tom Brady next week.”
The Rams checked all of the packing containers on defense Monday evening.
They intercepted Murray twice, returning a type of picks for a landing. That got here on a play in which they practically dropped Murray in the tip zone for what would have been a security. He averted the sack and chucked the ball in desperation proper to cornerback David Long Jr., who returned it for the shortest choose-six (3 yards) in NFL postseason historical past.
They made Murray’s recreation-breaking operating capability a nonfactor, holding the Cardinals to solely 61 speeding yards as a group (3.4-yard common) and stored them with no third-down conversion on 9 tries.
And it wasn’t simply the standard suspects who obtained it finished.
Linebacker Troy Reeder, a 2019 undrafted free agent, utilized the stress that compelled Murray’s errant cross to Long, who misplaced his beginning cornerback job earlier in the season. (Long damage his knee later in the sport; McVay stated Tuesday that the preliminary indications are optimistic.)
Defensive deal with Marquise Copeland, one other 2019 UDFA, got here down with the Rams’ different interception.
They obtained a sack and three tackles for loss from Von Miller and a half sack from Aaron Donald, one in every of their two first-group All-Pros together with cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
“To be able to get that many guys involved in making those kind of plays,” McVay stated, “that’s what you love.”
The Rams are hoping to get Taylor Rapp again this week from the concussion that sidelined him towards Arizona. His absence and Jordan Fuller‘s season-ending ankle harm from Week 18 compelled Nick Scott and Terrell Burgess into beginning roles at security.
Safety Eric Weddle, a 37-12 months-outdated who got here out of a two-12 months retirement to assist the Rams, performed 19 of 56 defensive snaps. It was his first NFL recreation in 750 days.
“It was unbelievable what Eric Weddle was able to do, and then come in and contribute,” McVay stated. “He’s one of those guys that just elevates. We talk about igniters all the time. You make everybody around you better. That’s what Eric Weddle is. I think he’s only going to build on this for next week.”
The Rams have been one in every of solely three groups to beat the Bucs in the common season, handing them a 34-24 loss in Week 3 at SoFi Stadium. They held Tampa Bay to 35 speeding yards on 13 makes an attempt.
Brady, nevertheless, threw for a season-excessive 432 yards.
“He’s the GOAT,” stated Weddle, who was nonetheless dwelling the retired life with zero considered enjoying once more when the 2 groups met in September. “I’ve had many battles with him over my career, and I can’t say I ever beat him. So let’s break that streak. How about that?
“But they’re rolling. They’re the defending champs for a cause. I may go on and on about him, only a man I like, his competitiveness, how skilled he’s, how nice he’s. Loads of weapons. Going to be an enormous problem for us but it surely would not matter who the perfect group is, it is who performs the perfect at that given time, so we’re up for the problem.”
That challenge will include playing on a short week and traveling across the country against the defending Super Bowl champions. And the Rams will have to do what only one team did during the regular season: beat the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
And there’s also that Brady guy.
“He’s obtained a lot expertise,” McVay said. “He’s so sensible. He’s so twitchy in his higher half. … He acknowledges precisely what is going on on. So I believe one of the simplest ways is attempt to affect and have an effect on, transfer him off his spot, be capable to win along with your rushes. Easier stated than finished. It’s why he is probably the most profitable quarterback of all time.”
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