Rams clinch playoff matchup with Lions after beating 49ers

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Rams set up highly anticipated matchup with Lions with a tough road win led by Carson Wentz and a gritty defensive effort.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – What more can you say about this team? With most key starters sitting, the Rams hung tight and were clutch in the fourth quarter to pull out their first road win against the 49ers since 2018. Carson Wentz started at quarterback and threw for two touchdowns, while also running for one and leading the team in rushing yards on the day. Puka Nacua also broke the NFL rookie record for receptions and yards in a single season before being removed to rest for the playoffs as well. 

The Rams finish the regular season at a remarkable 10-7 and will be the 6th seed in the NFC. 

Here are my three takeaways:

You might be thinking, “Hasn’t he already broken every record there is to break?” Well, Nacua just eclipsed the two biggest records a rookie receiver can get. After catching a beautiful pass from Carson Wentz to open up the Rams’ scoring and being hilariously double-teamed all first half, Puka got his accolades early in the third. He is now the all time leader in receiving yards by a rookie, and has the most receptions by a rookie receiver as well. For a 5th round pick that many scouts evaluated as a fifth receiver in the NFL, Nacua has turned himself into a young star in the league, and one of the cornerstones of a now contending Rams team. 

I can guarantee that if Carson Wentz started against the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin, the Rams would be 11-6 right now. This was Wentz’s first start since last season and his first start in a Rams uniform. For a guy that was drafted just one pick behind Jared Goff in the 2016 NFL draft, it has come full circle. He has always been a guy that could move around in the pocket and use his mobility to create gains out of nothing. The Rams took a chance on Wentz to be a solid backup quarterback for Matthew Stafford, who has had injury issues in the last two seasons. 

With Stafford resting for the playoffs, Wentz was shaky to start but clutch down the stretch in a stadium that is not easy to play at, regardless of who is playing. Using his legs to move the chains and convert short opportunities, Carson Wentz looked much better than I could’ve imagined. He ran in a game winning touchdown, and threw a tough pass to convert the two point conversion to take the lead and eventually give the Rams the win. I really hope Wentz either sticks around as the backup next year or gets a starting opportunity for a team in need of a quarterback, because he certainly does still have the ability to win games at his position. 

It is the matchup I think everybody that watches football has been waiting for. The Rams will travel to Detroit to take on the Lions in an extremely exciting and storybook game. Matthew Stafford will play his first playoff game in Detroit against the team that drafted him and the city that adores him, while Jared Goff will face the team that drafted him and the front office and coaching staff that traded him away for Stafford.

Whew, what a matchup this is going to be. A Rams offense that is playing as good as anyone in the NFL against a run stopping Lions defense. A Lions offense that is high octane and gutsy, against a Rams defense that has certainly defied expectations. A tough, gritty, motivational head coach in Dan Campbell versus the witty, confident, Super Bowl champion Sean McVay. This could go down as one of the most anticipated first round matchups of all time. Will Jared Goff get his revenge on the Rams, or will Matthew Stafforfd and the Rams break the hearts of the Detroit faithful? 

The Detroit Lions will host the Los Angeles Rams in the primetime slot of Sunday Night Football on NBC. Kickoff is set for 5:00 PM PST.