By Cedric Williams
It might not have been the best win of the season, but Sunday’s 27-23 victory over the Tennessee Titans was the Los Angeles Rams franchise’s biggest win since moving back to California, because it allowed the Rams to lock up their first NFC West title in 14 years.
The Rams had already clinched a playoff spot and Sunday’s game against the Titans felt like a playoff game, with LA taking control early in the fourth quarter to bring home their 11th victory of the season.
Several Rams players had great games and just about everyone had at least a good game, which is why we’ve got high marks for the Rams in their biggest game of the season.
Todd Gurley was brilliant once again for the Rams. The Pro Bowl running back had 276 total yards (118 rushing and 158 receiving) and two touchdowns to lead an LA offense that put up 402 yards overall. Quarterback Jared Goff also had a fantastic day, with 301 passing yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner to Cooper Kupp early in the fourth quarter.
The Rams defense found itself being tested more than most thought they would heading into Sunday’s contest against the Titans, which was led by quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Tennessee QB completed 22-of-38 passes for 275 yards. But LA proved themselves up to the challenge, especially against Tennessee’s vaunted running game, which features the one-two punch of Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry.
On Sunday though, the Rams held Murray to 48 yards on 15 carries and Henry to 25 yards on eight carries, for an average of just over 3.0 yards per carry. The Rams “D” was at their best in the fourth quarter, after they took the lead for good, when they forced Tennessee into two straight three-and-outs, then closed out the game by stopping the Titans on downs on their final drive of the game.
Special Teams: D
The one aspect of LA’s game that didn’t look so good on Sunday was the special teams. The Rams failed on a fake punt, didn’t make any plays or gain any momentum with their return game, and worst of all, new kicker Sam Ficken had a terrible day.
In his first game as Greg Zuerlein’s replacement, which also happened to be his first appearance in an NFL regular season game, Ficken missed his only field goal attempt and missed his first PAT, as well. Ficken did make his final three PATs, but with the playoffs just around the corner, the Rams have to be wondering if the former Penn State kicker will be up to the challenge of kicking in high pressure professional football games.
Sunday’s win gave the Rams franchise its first division title since 2003, and allowed LA fans to experience their first title by a hometown football team since the 1980s. That’s just awesome in every way, and the credit for all of that has to go to rookie head coach Sean McVay. That by itself should earn any coach the highest grade possible.
Next Up:: The Rams will close out the 2017 regular season with home matchup against the San Francisco 49ers (5-10), Sunday afternoon at The Coliseum.