DETROIT – The Rams season is over. After a valiant effort and gritty play in a hostile environment, the Lions bested the underdog Rams by a single point. Matthew Stafford’s return to Detroit was spectacular, and while he was battered and bruised, he threw for 367 yards and two touchdowns, with zero turnovers.
Puka Nacua continued to dominate and show why he is in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year, going for nine receptions and 181 yards (setting a rookie record for receiving yards in a playoff game). Ultimately, the Rams defense could not get critical stops and the Lions came away with the incredibly close victory to advance to the Divisional round.
The Rams finish the season at 10-7.
Here are my three takeaways:
The entire year, the Rams had lapses that prevented them from getting critical stops in critical situations to put them in position to win games. Granted, the offense bailed them out in most instances, but in the playoffs, everything is under the microscope. Against the Lions, those flaws showed up again.
To seal the game, the Lions had a first down conversion to extend the game and let the clock run out. It was not just that, as the line could not get pressure on Jared Goff in the early parts of the game. In the second half, the Rams made huge adjustments and didn’t allow many big plays, which allowed them to get back into the game, but the Lions offensive line continued to perform admirably and give Goff the ability to sit in the pocket and operate normally. That was the difference in this game.
Another issue throughout the entirety of the regular season has been the ability to get seven instead of three when in scoring territory. It once again came back to bite the Rams in this matchup. Even though the Rams ended up converting on every field goal they attempted (which was an issue throughout the regular season), getting touchdowns to match or outlast the Lions was critical.
Early on, the Rams could’ve matched or put away a team that had all of the momentum and crowd behind them in Detroit, but coming away with three instead of seven ended up being the difference in this extremely close ending result. Kyren Williams was not able to explore his redzone opportunities and most passing plays were thwarted when into scoring territory, which was what the Rams leaned on in the latter half of the season.
While the season may have come to an end, there is a heap of things to be proud of. The Rams hit on many draft picks and found multiple stars as the foundation of the team in the process of a rebuild. Yes, that is right, this was a rebuilding year. We tend to get away from that notion when a team exceeds expectations. The Rams clinched a playoff spot, won ten games, and hung with many playoff teams and Super Bowl contenders, while finding core pieces to build around the fantastic veteran play of Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald.
The future is incredibly bright, and for a team that people thought were going to be tanking, non-competitive, and on the outskirts of the playoff picture, Rams fans should be incredibly proud of the effort put forth this season. While there will be changes and familiar faces from this year gone, the Rams will be a solidified Super Bowl Contender next year,, with reinforcements coming through the draft and free agency to support the valiant effort from the team this year. The “Rams House” is back and will be looking for another Lombardi trophy come next season…