Well everyone, it happened. The Los Angeles Rams, the laughing stock of the NFL between 2006-2016, have made it to a Super Bowl. A team that you would look at and laugh at the roster most years has not found a way to turn it around completely in two years and have made the Super Bowl.
The Rams defeated the New Orleans Saints 26-23 in an overtime thriller down in New Orleans. Greg Zuerlein nailed a 57 yard field goal to send the Rams to the Super Bowl, after a huge interception by John Johnson that set up the Zuerlein field goal. Now, the Rams will play the New England Patriots, who is a familiar foe in a Super Bowl.
The Rams and Patriots squared off in New Orleans in Super Bowl 36, where the Rams were originally favored by 14 points. They were eventually upset by the Patriots on a last second Adam Vinateri field goal, which started the Patriots dynasty. The Rams were known as the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ at that time, and that loss was the beginning of the end for that incredible roster.
Now, the Rams have a very similar high-powered offense under Sean McVay. In the playoff games, the Rams have had 378 yards against the Saints and 459 against the Dallas Cowboys in their divisional round game. Their offense was split between the two games, as in the Cowboys game they had 273 rushing yards, and in the Saints game the Rams were held to 77 yards. Jared Goff had to step up yesterday for the Rams, and was able to do so.
The biggest key for the Rams right now is getting Todd Gurley healthy. Gurley was out for most of the second half yesterday and CJ Anderson stepped in his place and took over. Anderson did as well as he could, with 44 total rushing yards. Gurley was held to only 10 total rushing yards, which oddly enough was the amount Goff had. If Gurley is not healthy, that is a huge problem for the Rams. They will not be able to establish the run game against the Patriots, which is critical.
New England’s run defense was 11th in the league in rushing yards, and they have not faced a two running back duo like Gurley and Anderson yet. Gurley not being able to go makes the Rams much more one-dimensional and will hurt Goff’s ability to throw the ball. However, new England was 23rd in passing defense, and was one of the worst teams in the NFL at getting to the quarterback, having only 30 sacks on the year in total. The Rams also allowed the 8th least sacks in the NFL, only allowing defenses to get 33 total sacks. Therefore, the Rams must win this game at the line of scrimmage and shut down the Patriots rush on Goff.
For the defensive side of the ball, the Rams are going up against the 5th ranked offense in the NFL in yards, and one of the top scoring offenses in the NFL. The Patriots score about 27 points a game, compared to the Rams 33 points a game. The Rams were 19th in total yards allowed, and 20th in points allowed per game at 24 points. With the Patriots scoring 27 a game, it seems like the game will be fairly high scoring, but the defensive game will be won in the trenches.
The Rams were 23rd in total rush yards allowed and New England ran for the 5th most yards in the entire NFL. That could be major trouble for the Rams, as they have struggled against the run all season. However, they have been up to the challenge in the two playoff games. They held Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL’s leading rusher, to 47 yards, and held the two headed running monster of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram to 48 total yards. Compared to the regular season, the Rams were getting gashed for big runs all the time. Now, it seems like they’ve turned a corner in the run game. Now, they have to continue that to help bring home the Lombardi trophy.
On a more personal note, as someone who never saw a Rams winning record during my entire fandom, yesterday was a dream. I know many Rams fans agree with me here, but the heartache that Rams fans have had to endure for the past 10-15 years has been unbearable. Seeing that Zuerlein field goal go through the uprights brought back every emotion I have ever had with the Rams during my fandom. And now, the Rams are onto Super Bowl 53 against a great opponent, and I absolutely cannot wait for Super Bowl Sunday to come.