It wasn’t pretty, but the Los Angeles Rams earned their 11th win of the season with a 27-23 victory against the Tennessee Titans. The Rams are officially playoff bound by clinching the NFC West Division.
Here are six thoughts on the win:
‘Started from the bottom now we’re here’
What a difference a year makes. The Rams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders after being at the bottom of nearly every category last season. Thanks Jeff Fisher? Sorry, but Fisher wouldn’t have pulled out the victory today or half of the wins this season for that matter. Instead, thanks Sean McVay and Wade Phillips. Because of their leadership, the Rams are the 2017 NFC West champions. McVay already secured a winning season in his first year with the Rams, something Fisher couldn’t do in five.
Todd Gurley for MVP
The bulk of the Rams’ offensive production came from Gurley, who totaled 276 yards and two touchdowns on 32 touches. Oddly enough, it still felt like McVay should have fed the ball more to Gurley. Many experts thought he would be the focal point in the passing offense considering the Titans’ battered secondary. However, Gurley still bulldozed his way on the ground. His performance was the main reason the Rams picked up the win. If this victory doesn’t prove Gurley’s case for MVP, nothing will.
It was a bad sign when special teams coach John Fassel opted to have punter Johnny Hekker conduct a fake punt attempt instead of settling for a 50-yard attempt by rookie kicker Sam Ficken. The play could have worked had Hekker not underthrown the football. If Greg Zuerlein was available, that probably would have been an automatic three points. Ficken didn’t leave a great first impression after missing his first extra point and field goal attempts. For those questioning the importance of a great kicker, watch this game again.
Passing game struggled despite numbers
Jared Goff recorded 301 yards and four touchdowns, which seems like a solid day. However, much of that credit does go to Gurley. Also, if you really watched the game, Goff often passed the ball behind his receivers. He must improve on this going into the playoffs. Cooper Kupp dropped another critical pass. It seems nitpicky bringing this up in a victory, but this cannot happen in the playoffs or the Rams will have an early exit.
Cory Littleton is a beast
Mark Barron is a crucial part of this defense, so seeing him on the inactive list caused a little panic. Littleton eased the concern early on with a key interception. Littleton was all over the field and was a solid replacement for Barron. Although Littleton did well, hopefully Barron will be back for the 49ers or at least the playoffs. Littleton has holes in his game, which makes him better suited for special teams play.
NFL needs officiating training … or something
I strayed away from this issue for a couple of weeks, but something needs to be done with the NFL’s officiating department. The officiating for the past few weeks has been poor at best. This week was no different for both teams. When the officials can’t even tell if the Rams called a timeout or not, there needs to be some sort of training. At the least, some sort of overhaul is needed by the NFL in how officials are held responsible for their mistakes.