What We Learned

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2021 NFL season, Week 5: What we learned from Rams' win over Seahawks on Thursday night

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams
2021 · 4-1-0
Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks
2021 · 2-3-0

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  1. This Matt, that Matt. Two different Matthew Staffords showed up Thursday night for the Rams. The first one overthrew too many passes and had trouble moving the sticks on third down in the first half, and continued to struggle into the third quarter. Even an attempted throwaway through the end zone was picked off when Quandre Diggs appeared out of nowhere for the turnover. It’s tough to blame the finger injury Stafford sustained on his throwing hand that required a wrap; he was missing targets even before his finger became an issue. The second Stafford warmed up and started moving the ball in chunks to help the Rams pull away for the win. It wasn’t always pretty -- his 68-yard completion to DeSean Jackson was underthrown and misplayed by Seahawks safety Jamal Adams, and he later underthrew a 33-yard completion to Cooper Kupp that should’ve gone for more. Still, Stafford showed mettle in a hostile road environment and ultimately got the job done.
  2. Bravo, Geno. Forget about the interception that Geno Smith fired to kill Seattle’s chances of a comeback. Had receiver Tyler Lockett not fallen down on his route, Smith just might’ve led the Seahawks to a brilliant comeback. It felt like Smith had to be unwrapped from Cryovac upon entering the game for injured Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, given that he’d thrown just nine passes since 2018. Yet, the eighth-year veteran looked calm, sharp, and anything but rusty in leading Seattle on two second-half scoring drives to keep his team close. Well-protected, Smith fired his first NFL TD pass since 2017 to DK Metcalf, and added a field goal drive following that. He ended his night 10 of 17 passes for 131 yards, and deserved to let rip a few more with a chance to win.
  3. Out of the Woods. A Rams receiver other than Cooper Kupp -- on this night, Robert Woods -- finally got to shine. Kupp entered the game as the NFL’s most targeted wide receiver by quite a margin -- 55 times, 10 more than the Packers’ Davante Adams. But after the team’s offense stalled a bit last week as Kupp caught just five of 13 targets in a loss, quarterback Matthew Stafford turned elsewhere against the Seahawks with big success. Woods caught 12 passes for 150 yards as Stafford’s primary target (14 targets to Kupp’s 10). He signaled the big night early with an impressive juggling catch for a first down to begin the Rams’ second possession, and eventually carved up the Seahawks secondary, mostly over the middle of the field.
  4. Seven points lost to flag. Seattle’s offensive line picked a brutal moment to incur its first holding call of the season. Near the end of the first half, Seahawks tackle Duane Brown was flagged for a hold on Terrell Lewis, erasing a would-be touchdown pass from Wilson to Lockett. It should’ve cost Seattle just four points, but when Jason Myers pulled a 35-yard field goal outside the left upright just two plays later, the price went up to seven points. Like interceptions, some penalties hurt and some don’t. Seattle was flagged just three times for 20 yards all night, but those totals didn’t tell the whole story.
  5. Dominant Donald. As quickly as Aaron Donald penetrated the Seahawks' offensive backfield, credit the Rams secondary with a coverage sack on Donald’s franchise-record-setter, No. 88.5 for his career. Wilson had ample time to throw on the third-quarter loss of nine. Beyond that, Donald made his presence felt in multiple ways, including the inadvertent contact with Wilson’s throwing hand that knocked the quarterback out of the game with a finger injury. Donald made seven stops, hurried Seahawks quarterbacks three times, deflected a pass and recorded two tackles for loss. Throw in five QB pressures, and the four-time Defensive Player of the Year wreaked havoc once again.

 

Next Gen stats of the night: The much-anticipated matchup between Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf wasn’t a full-time show. Ramsey lined up across from Metcalf on just half (13) of Metcalf’s 26 pass routes.

NFL Research: Rams DL Aaron Donald now has 88.5 career sacks, the most in team history since the stat has been tracked (1982). He bested Leonard Little (87.5).

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