Defense dominates, Rams secure road playoff victory over Seahawks

Darious Williams’ 42-yard interception return for TD keys win
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The most pressing question entering Saturday’s contest against the Seattle Seahawks for the Los Angeles Rams was who would be under center at the start of the game.

Turns out, it didn’t matter.

L.A.’s top-ranked defense dominated from opening kickoff to the end of the game, suffocating Seattle’s offense and leading the Rams to a 30-20 road win in the NFC Wild Card opening round at Lumen Field.

Rams head coach Sean McVay upped his record to 37-0, including playoffs, during his tenure with the Rams when his team leads at halftime.

With the win, the Rams advance to the next round of the NFC playoffs, facing the Green Bay Packers on the road unless No. 7 seed the Chicago Bears defeat the No. 2-seeded New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

The win snapped a 10-game home winning streak in the postseason. The last time Seattle lost at home in the playoffs was against the then-St. Louis Rams in the 2004 Wild Card round, a 27-20 win.

Making his second career NFL start against the Seahawks, John Wolford became only the fourth undrafted quarterback in team history since 1950 to start a playoff game.

His time in the game didn’t last long though, as he took a shot in the head by Seattle safety Jamal Adams midway through the first quarter on a called run and had to leave the game with a neck injury. Per the Associated Press, Wolford was taken to hospital in an ambulance. Looked like a scary situation for Wolford. The Rams confirmed Wolford was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

Jared Goff replaced Wolford, leaving the Rams with no other healthy quarterbacks available for the game. The Rams left third-string quarterback Blake Bortles inactive. Goff did a good job managing the game, finishing 9-of-19 for 155 yards, a 15-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods and most important, no turnovers. Give Goff credit for playing with a broken thumb just 12 days after having screws put in place to stabilize the injury.

Rams RB Cam Akers/USA Today

Rams RB Cam Akers/USA Today

With Goff not 100 percent, rookie Cam Akers carried the offense, finishing with 176 total yards from scrimmage, including a 5-yard run for a score -- the most total yards by a Rams’ rookie running back in team history.

Key play: With 6:40 left in the second quarter, Rams cornerback Darius Williams jumped a wide receiver screen intended for DK Metcalf, catching the ball clean and racing 43 yards for a score, the Rams fifth defensive touchdown this season. The touchdown gave Los Angeles a 13-3 lead, which they never relinquished. Per Next Gen Stats, it was the first interception on a wide receiver screen this season.

Top player: Aaron Donald finished three combined tackles -- including two tackles for loss -- two sacks and three quarterback hits. He’s now sacked Russell Wilson a career-high 15 times. Donald’s effort even caught the attention of Kansas City Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes. However, Donald suffered rib injury in the third quarter pressuring Wilson and had to go to the locker room for further evaluation. He did not return.

What I liked: The Rams held Seattle to 278 total yards and 2-for-14 on third down and sacked Wilson five times. The Rams sacked Wilson 16 times combined this season. Punter Johnny Hekker helped the Rams control field position, averaging 45 yards per punt with three downed inside the 20-yard line. Matt Gay finished 3-of-3 on field goals, with a long of 40 yards. In the fourth quarter, outside linebacker Samson Ebukam had a nice strip sack on D.J. Reed's punt return, and good play by Micah Kiser to fight for the football on the fumble recovery to help salt away the game. 

What I didn’t like: The Rams gave up a 58-yard kick return by D.J. Reed to open the second half, which led to a Jason Myers 52-yard field goal. Inconsistent special teams coverage has been an issue for the Rams all season.

Injury report: Along with Wolford, left guard David Edwards suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter and had to leave the game. Bobby Evans replaced Edwards in the starting lineup. Edge rusher Leonard Floyd was evaluated for a concussion in the first half but later returned to the game. Floyd finished with two sacks, two quarterback hits and two tackles. Floyd has sacked Wilson seven times this year. Cooper Kupp suffered what looked to be a right knee injury at the end of the game and had to go to the locker room for further evaluation.