The Los Angeles Rams fell behind 13-0 to the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game. The situation was dire. There is no other way to say it.
Quarterback Jared Goff’s helmet malfunctioned. The offensive line couldn’t hear Goff’s play calls. Overall, the offensive line looked confused and a step slow, especially on the left side of the line. However, this unit found a way. They somehow pulled it together and protected quarterback Jared Goff.
It all began with nonverbal cues between center John Sullivan and Goff. Their adjustment to the crowd-noise changed the direction of the championship game. The rest of the line followed suit.
The Rams got more comfortable with the crowd-noise, and the offense woke up. From the second quarter on, Roger Saffold and Andrew Whitworth did a masterful job slowing down the Saints offensive pass rush to give Goff enough time to make the right play. In the end, the Saints sacked Goff only once.
As the game wore on, the right side of the line, anchored by Austin Blythe and Rob Havenstein, pushed the defensive line further and further back. Play action plays, the Rams most potent offensive weapon, became more effective in the third and fourth quarters. Misdirection plays wreaked havoc on the Saints defense, quickly putting them on their heels.
Suddenly, it the Saints’ defense looked slower instead of the Rams offensive line. The Rams’ play selection kept the Saints guessing on where the ball was going. Whether it be tight end Gerald Everett or wide receiver Robert Woods running the football on end arounds, or a play-action pass to Brandin Cooks, the Rams kept New Orleans guessing. And it all started with the offensive line pulling it together late in the first quarter.
Goff proved to be the biggest beneficiary. The line gave him excellent protection, and it was enough for him to blossom in terrible circumstance. He completed 25 of 40 passes for 297 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Those numbers include a wretched first quarter. However, with the Rams season on the line, the men in the trenches gave Goff what he needed. In turn, Goff led his team to the Super Bowl.