The Los Angeles Rams are heading to the Superbowl after a thrilling overtime victory, but all anyone wants to talk about is the no-call in the fourth quarter that cost New Orleans the game.
The Saints and Rams were tied at 20, and Drew Brees drove the team down to the Rams 13-yard line. He threw a pass out to the right for Tommylee Lewis, and before the ball even got close to him Rams corner, Nickell Robey-Coleman, obliterated him with excessive force on a defenseless receiver, helmet to helmet contact and the most obvious case of pass interference that I have seen in my life. All this led to a Will Lutz field goal and gave the Rams 1:41 to go down and tie the game back up. The Rams did so and the game went into overtime.
The momentum and feeling inside the Mercedez-Benz Superdome was changed after that no-call. In overtime the Saints had a chance to score first, but a costly interception from Brees setup Greg Zuerlein’s game winning 57 yard field goal. The Saints lost in memorable fashion for the second straight year, and the Rams are in for a rematch of the 2002 Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.
The Rams went out and spent a fortune on talent this season. They traded for Marcus Peters from the Kansas City Chiefs and Aqib Talib from the Denver Broncos,, to tighten up the teams secondary. They traded for Brandin Cooks from New England, to get a speedy guy and a number one target in their wide receiver core. They then signed him to a massive 5-year extension. They signed Ndamukong Suh to help Aaron Donald on the defensive line. They signed Donald to the largest defensive contract in NFL history. They also gave Todd Gurley an extension and in the middle of the season they traded for defensive end Dante Fowler.
Los Angeles built this team to win now. The team is fulfilling that role and even with the controversial call against the Saints, it does not change that the Rams are now going to the Super Bowl.
It was a weird game for LA because Todd Gurley had very little production. The Saints came in with a plan to stop him and he only had four carries for 10 yards. The running game in general was off for them and C.J. Anderson unexpectedly led the way with 16 carries for 44 yards. Anderson is starting to become a problem for opposing defenses because he changes the pace and direction of the run. Anderson is more of a downhill through the middle runner, while Gurley is a side to side beat you in the open space type. This change of pace style will be critical against the Patriots who are no doubt going to focus primarily on stopping Gurley’s ability to run.
On the other side of the offense Jared Goff had a solid game going 25-40, with 297 yards and a touchdown. The Rams throwing game was what they leaned on to help win since the run was struggling. Cooks led the team in yards with 107, but Goff spread the love by completing a pass to eight different receivers.
On defense the Rams did well pressuring Brees. They sacked him twice and intercepted him once, but the goal looked like they wanted to stop the run as well. They succeeded in that and only allowed 46 yards from Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. The game was relying on defense to make stops and whether you like it or not the Rams made stops.
A performance like this against a strong defense and even better offense has to make Sean McVay feel good about his team. They showed that if one part of their offense is not working, they can lean on another part. They also learned that the defense is ready for the challenges against an elite level quarterback. The match up against Tom Brady will be the team’s biggest test yet and on the biggest stage in the game. If the Rams want to win, they need Goff to play solid with almost no mistakes. If that happens and the defense plays like it has six pro bowlers on it, then the Rams have a chance to win their first Super Bowl since the 1999 season.