In Los Angeles' NFC Championship Game triumph, Brandin Cooks played a pivotal role, catching a team-high seven balls for 107 yards. But perhaps Cooks' most important contribution was a dropped pass.
Rams coach Sean McVay called a screen pass to Cooks, who was lined up left next to Robert Woods. On the snap, Woods engaged Saints cornerback P.J. Williams, leaving Marshon Lattimore free to tackle Cooks. Rams quarterback Jared Goff threw the pass anyway to Cooks, who was set up four yards behind the line of scrimmage.
As Lattimore shot the gap, certain to tackle Cooks for a loss, the wide receiver dropped the perfectly thrown pass, a decision that McVay said Thursday was intentional.
"Brandin Cooks, talk about a smart football player," McVay told reporters. "Having the presence when I give him a terrible play call on the third down to drop it, knowing that it would have been a terrible play where he intentionally drops it."
"I think it's one of those things where you see what happened, one of the D-ends and Marshon, the way that they played it, being able to be in the backfield before I technically really was able to catch the ball and get upfield," Cooks explained, "I think it was more important to save those yards, not that Greg (Zuerlein) needs them, but rather play it safe than sorry."
"Yeah, I was not aware at the time that he did that intentionally," Goff told reporters. "Afterwards, I found out that that was a pre-decision. I probably shouldn't have even thrown it to him. I should've just thrown it at his feet. But yeah, it was smart. Saved us about four yards there, made that kick 57 (yards) instead of 61. I think Greg would've made it from there, but I don't think we want to even chance that. So it was a good decision by him."