The Los Angeles Rams extended their winning streak to five games after narrowly beating the Baltimore Ravens 20-19 in Week 17. It was a two-half story for quarterback Matthew Stafford , but ultimately the Rams’ caller made the plays necessary to lead his team to victory on the road. Several people have also mobilized alongside Stafford at crucial times.
The Rams’ defense struggled at times to come off the field Sunday afternoon, which allowed the Ravens to control the clock and keep Stafford and the LA offense off the field. That said, keeping the opposing team out of the end zone and limiting it to 12 points will result in a win most of the time. The defense also deserves the credit for securing key saves towards the end of the game, especially in the red zone, to set up Stafford’s winning campaign.
Another long drive, but again, the Rams’ defense is holding on to an FG. Ravens until 19-14 with 4:30 to play. How will the offense react?
– Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) January 2, 2022
In four of games in LA’s five-game winning streak, the defense kept the opposing quarterback out of the end zone. This list includes Trevor Lawrence, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson and now Tyler Huntley.
Odell Beckham, Jr., WR
Odell Beckham, Jr. has scored his fifth touchdown in seven games with Los Angeles, and the mid-season pickup is playing dividends for the Rams at key times. Beckham made several catches in the winning campaign and relied on his solid play in the red zone.
The veteran finished with 5 receptions for 39 yards and the touchdown that gave LA the lead. While those numbers might not seem too impressive at first glance, OBJ made plays to convert third downs and made an impact when his team needed him most.
Von Miller, OLB
Von Miller joined the team around the same time as OBJ, and he also made a difference in this road victory. Miller’s athleticism has stood out at times, which is important compared to a quarterback like Huntley.
Miller finished with two sacks, including one in the final practice of the game as the Ravens approached the shooting range. The sack backed Baltimore and kept the clock running, which meant their focus had to shift from a potential placement try to a touchdown.
GM Les Snead must be happy with the impact of OBJ and Miller so far in the regular season, but the success of those moves will ultimately be judged by how far this team has come in the playoffs.
Troy Reeder, ILB
The Ravens relied heavily on the running game and didn’t try to push the ball often down the field – which is a favorable play scenario for linebacker Troy Reeder. This outing was one of Reeder’s best performances this season, as he finished with 10 tackles and a sack.
While Reeder is often a lightning rod for fan reviews, he plays an important role and is an important chess piece against certain styles of teams.
Sony Michel, RB
The Rams’ five-game winning streak coincides with the emergence of veteran Sony Michel at the helm of the team. Sunday afternoon in Baltimore was another solid performance from Michel, and he was also widely used as a control option in the passing game. Even when the passing game is on shaky ground, Michel’s physical presence gives the Rams consistency and another way to stretch defenses in close-range situations.
Sony Michel and Cooper Kupp were the stabilizers when this offense went off the rails due to QB turnovers. Rams loses just two points with 12:09 to go.
– Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) January 2, 2022
Michel finished Week 17 with 19 carries for 74 yards (3.9 average) and a touchdown. He also added 3 catches for 25 yards in the air.
Tyler Higbee, TE
Tyler Higbee recently missed two games due to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. While his absence from those games didn’t seem significant at the time, it is clear from the past two weeks that Higbee is an important player for this offense. The Rams look to the veteran to make important plays in the running-and-passing game, and he’s often the first to watch in short-range scenarios.
Higbee finished the day with 6 receptions on 9 targets for 69 yards with three of his catches on the only opening disc.
Rob Havenstein, RT
Rams sorely missed reliable Rob Havenstein in Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks when he and Joseph Noteboom were excluded from that game due to COVID-19 restrictions; however, Havenstein gave up a strip sack on Stafford which became one of the biggest games of the game. The good tackle has been a constant contributor for LA throughout his career, but his Sunday afternoon outing was not one of his best.
Matthew Stafford, QB
I have been going back and forth on how to include Stafford on this list. Yes, he had an impressive winning campaign to take the lead over Baltimore in two minutes; however, his team also found themselves in this situation because of their mistakes. Stafford finished the game with three turnovers – two steals and a fumble (the foul could be attributed to Havenstein), and this is particularly concerning against a ball-control team style that minimizes the chances of scoring points.
It is encouraging that the Rams weren’t victims of the unfortunate scenario that has become all too familiar during the team’s three-game midseason losing streak, but Stafford is included in the ‘losers’ list for a key reason.
You shouldn’t be portrayed as a hero for saving a burning building while you’re the one who started the fire. Stafford gave up the Ravens’ only touchdown of the day and put the LA defense in a tough spot – Baltimore scored 13 of its 19 points on Stafford’s turnovers.
As important as the plays Stafford made late in the game to turn the tide, the fact that the defense kept Huntley and the Ravens on the field to four goals and returned the ball on offense at the most important moment. .