After the signings and trades made in the offseason many people believed the Rams were coming into this season with the “super bowl or bust” mindset. This past Sunday the Rams secured a super bowl appearance with a 26-23 comeback victory over the New Orleans Saints. It will be the Rams 4th super bowl appearance and first trip since 2001.
The game to get to the super bowl was not easy for the Rams by any means. After an ugly first quarter, the Rams found themselves down 13-0 with nothing working on offense. Luckily, the Rams offense turned it around in the second quarter scoring ten unanswered points to cut the deficit to 3 heading into halftime. The Rams and Saints traded scores for the second half and eventually the Rams were able to win the game in overtime on a 57-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein.
The Rams comeback was led by quarterback Jared Goff who finished the game with 25 completions on 40 attempts for 297 yards and a touchdown. Goff commanded the offense and continued to improve as the game went on. After struggling with the crowd noise in the first half, Goff didn’t let it bother him late in the game and made sure every Rams player was on the same page. In fact, there was a particular play where Goff ran to tight end Gerald Everett to make sure he knew what route to run. The Rams ended up calling a timeout before the play was run but the very next play Goff hit Everett for a 39 yard gain on a crucial 3rd down in the 4th quarter. This was arguably Goff’s most impressive game in his young career. Goff didn’t light up the stat sheet but he made giant throws when they mattered most and showed a lot of maturity. Goff made everyone forget that this was only his 3rd playoff game of his career as he out played future hall of famer Drew Brees on the big stage.
Besides the play of Goff, the Rams were also able to defeat the Saints by a number of players acquired this offseason. Ndamukong Suh had his best game in a Rams uniform as he had 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits, and helped stop both the Saints passing and rushing offense. Suh was relied upon heavily to stop the Saints duel threat running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. For the entire game Suh plugged up the holes in the middle of the offensive line and held to Saints to just 48 yards rushing on 21 carries. Another Ram acquired in the offseason, Marcus Peters, also had one of his best games this season. After being torched by the Saints earlier this year, Peters rebounded nicely by only allowing 2 receptions for 23 yards on balls thrown his way. He and Aqib Talib were also able to limit Saints star WR Michel Thomas to only 4 catches for 36 yards. Finally, Brandin Cooks who was acquired in a trade with the Patriots this offseason led all Rams receivers with 7 receptions and 107 yards. Cooks was impressive all game but his biggest catch came late in the 2nd quarter on a 36 yard pass from Jared Goff. Goff threw a beautiful deep ball into tight coverage and Cooks was able to hold on for the catch which put the Rams in the red zone. The Rams were able to capitalize on this play as Todd Gurley capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.
Now it does need to be said that this game got a lot of attention once it concluded because of a “missed” call by the officials. Nickel Robey Coleman hit Saints WR Tommy Lee Lewis early on a third down that would’ve given the Saints a first a goal opportunity late in the 4th quarter. Instead, the play was not flagged and the Saints were forced to kick a field goal. The Rams ended up tying the game and forcing it to go to overtime. The Saints started with the ball but Drew Brees threw an interception to John Johnson on a pass that was deflected by Dante Fowler. A lot of Saints fans were outraged after the game as they tried to claim they got robbed. Even though the call was blatant and obvious the Rams should have no shame in winning the way they did. This game was called terribly all game and there were multiple non calls that went in the Saints favor including a facemask on Goff that should’ve resulted in a first a goal for the Rams. Regardless of the bad calls, both teams had an equal opportunity to win the game in overtime and the Rams were the team to get the job done.
The Rams have worked hard all year and now are only one win away from becoming Super Bowl champions. The task won’t be easy as they will face the New England Patriots who have become the greatest dynasty the NFL has ever seen. But the Rams don’t care about that. Head coach Sean McVay has kept the Rams laser focused on the task at hand, and that task is winning. The Rams are going to the super bowl and that is awesome but there is still work left to be done. In the words of Marcus Peters “I think we ain’t done yet!”
Featured Image: Eric Edholm/ Pro Football Weekly