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2021 NFL season, Week 15: What we learned from Rams' win over Seahawks, Eagles' victory against Washington

Los Angeles Rams
2021 · 10-4-0
Seattle Seahawks
2021 · 5-9-0


Grant Gordon's takeaways:

  1. Cooper Kupp to the rescue! After a dreadful three-point showing in the first half and a Seahawks seven-point march to start the second, the Rams needed a spark. Of course, Kupp, having one of the finest seasons for a receiver in NFL chronicle, stepped up. Kupp ignited the offense with a 32-yard grab on the team’s first second-half drive. A play later, Sony Michel broke loose for 39 yards. Two plays later, Kupp hauled in his franchise-record 120th catch of the season for a 6-yard touchdown. On the drive, he also went over the 90-yard mark for a 10th straight game, setting a new NFL record in the process as he broke a tie with Michael Irvin (1995) and new teammate Odell Beckham (2014) at nine consecutive games, per NFL Research. Kupp, who tallied nine receptions for 136 yards and two scores on the evening, added the go-ahead score on a beautiful deep ball over the middle from Matthew Stafford. Questions remain for the Rams as a whole, but Kupp's individual contributions have been able to carry L.A. when called for, as they were Tuesday. 
  2. Losing effort for Seahawks. This rare Tuesday tilt in Southern California was accompanied by plenty of concern and news regarding players sidelined by COVID-19, and the Rams looking to keep on rolling. However, it overshadowed a game that was emblematic of the season of struggles that has played out for Seattle. By virtue of the Seahawks’ loss on Tuesday, Seattle’s string of nine consecutive winning seasons has come to an end. Russell Wilson continues to look unRuss-like as evidenced by his line of 17 of 31, 156 yards, zero touchdowns, an interception and a 55.3 rating. The defense continues to improve down the stretch, but is still miles removed from the entity that once fueled a Super Bowl contender. In today’s NFL, teams rarely win for nine years in a row, they aren’t going to the playoffs season in and season out. What Pete Carroll and Wilson have been able to do in Seattle, to be consistent winners, is something that should be appreciated. But this 2021 campaign has been a rarity that has served as a harbinger for change ahead. 
  3. Rams defense at its dominant best. Aside from one impressive Seahawks march to six points, the Rams defense was excellent on Tuesday. Von Miller registered his first sack for his new squad, Jalen Ramsey was his exceptional self and Aaron Donald did that whole domination thing that he does. A Taylor Rapp interception stood as the Rams’ lone takeaway of the game as they simply played good, hard defense and, with the exception of the aforementioned Seattle scoring drive, never let the Seahawks offense get going. A week after holding down the Cardinals, the Rams dominated the Seahawks, who mustered but 214 yards of offense, were 3 of 11 on third down and averaged 4 yards per play. Kupp outshined the Rams’ offensive sluggishness and the L.A. defense overcame it. If the Rams, who’ve now won three in a row, truly are to be a Super Bowl contender, this is the kind of defensive performance they need each Sunday … or Tuesday. 
  4. One Seahawk who's not struggling. Amid his eighth NFL season, Quandre Diggs might well be turning in the best year of his career. The 28-year-old 2020 Pro Bowler wasn’t the most ballyhooed former Detroit Lion on the field Tuesday, but he got the better of his former teammate, Matthew Stafford, with a first-half interception (the fifth of his season to match last season’s career-high). Entering Week 15, as the last-ranked NFL defense, the Seahawks have been improved in that department over the last month (they’ve allowed 23 or less points in eight straight games). Diggs, who also had seven tackles, has been a huge part of that and was a big reason the Rams’ offense was held to three points in the first half Tuesday. 

Next Gen stat of the game: Russell Wilson was 2 for 12 for 43 yards and an interception on passes of 10-plus air yards.

NFL Research: Quandre Diggs intercepted former Lions teammate Matthew Stafford for the second time this season and matched his 2020 career-high of five interceptions to join Richard Sherman as the only Seahawks to have back-to-back seasons of five-plus INTs since 2000.

Philadelphia Eagles
2021 · 7-7-0
Washington Football Team
2021 · 6-8-0


Chase Goodbread's takeaways:

  1. Jalen Hurts’ faith in TE Dallas Goedert paid off. But who could’ve blamed him if he hadn’t looked Goedert’s way the rest of the night after the two got off, shall we say, on the wrong foot? Goedert dropped an easy catch on a short throw for what should’ve been a first down on Philadelphia’s opening drive, and it bounced off his heel into the hands of Washington’s Landon Collins for an interception. But Hurts went right back to his tight end on the Eagles’ next possession, and again and again until the miscue was an afterthought. Goedert had a career-high 135 yards on seven grabs, ripping one of them away from DB Jeremy Reaves. Goedert had another third-down drop in the third quarter resulting in a punt, but overall, he bounced back nicely from the early catastrophe. Apart from Goedert, Hurts connected on explosive plays across the Philly receiving corps – a 34-yarder to Jalen Reagor, a 28-yarder to DeVonta Smith, a 19-yard clincher for a touchdown to Greg Ward. But it was Hurts-to-Goedert that largely dug the Eagles out of their first-half hole.
  2. Washington’s early 10-0 lead was short-lived and, in hindsight, it should be no wonder why. A WFT offense that’s nothing special when healthy was missing two quarterbacks, its best offensive lineman in Brandon Scherff, and one of its best playmakers in running back J.D. McKissic. The Eagles gift-wrapped those 10 early points with turnovers on their first two possessions. After that, Philadelphia’s began clamping down. Washington QB Garrett Gilbert needed a lot more help from his running game to keep pace, and he didn’t get it. Though sacked just twice, he was pressured on 51.5% of his dropbacks, a harrowing total that wasn’t conducive to sustained success. Gilbert was tasked with beating one of the better defenses in the NFL with less than a week in a Washington uniform, and even less than that to prepare as a starter. For his second career start. On the road. In the rain. It was an awfully big ask, yielding an equally predictable outcome.
  3. With both teams entering the game at 6-7, rubber met the road where the playoffs are concerned. And Philadelphia was the team that sped off. With a highly-balanced offensive attack of 519 yards (281 passing, 238 rushing), the Eagles rolled to a win that was more convincing than the 10-point margin indicated. Washington is now a playoff contender only by way of the mathematical gymnastics that says it's not quite eliminated. The Eagles aren’t in a great position either, but at .500 with three games to play, including two at home, their postseason path is better-paved. It’s an all-NFC-East finish for Philly with upcoming tilts against struggling New York Giants, another date with Washington, and finally with Dallas. Notwithstanding the early miscues, Tuesday night looked like an Eagles team poised for a strong finish.
  4. The Washington defensive front looked utterly lost trying to defend the run. Philadelphia entered as the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL, and Washington more or less played the role of matador in furthering that ranking. Miles Sanders led the way with 131 yards on 18 carries, but he didn’t have to break many tackles for it. Washington was blown off the ball such that Sanders was able to repeatedly break into the second and third level of the defense before any WFT defender laid a hand on him, resulting in big gains that flipped field position and set up Hurts for 12-for-15 success on play-action passes, per Next Gen Stats. Jordan Howard fared well in a complimentary role (15 for 69), and Hurts tucked it for another 38 yards and a pair of rushing scores.

Next Gen stat of the game: The completion probability on DeVonta Smith’s nifty first-quarter catch for 28 yards while falling out of bounds on the right sideline was just 13.2%.

NFL Research: Hurts joined Cam Newton and Kyler Murray as the only NFL quarterbacks ever to rush for 700-plus yards and nine-plus touchdowns in a season. He now has 10 rushing scores, which leads all NFL quarterbacks, and broke Mike Vick’s single-season franchise record for quarterbacks.

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