Impact players are hard to come by – let alone two that were added to the Rams roster at the midpoint of the season.
In full win-now mode, the Rams added not one but two elite players around the NFL trade deadline. Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. proved they were well worth the midseason gamble in the Rams' 34-11 victory over the Cardinals.
Miller, who appeared in his first playoff game since earning the MVP award in Super Bowl XLVIII six years ago, extended his sack-streak with the Rams to five games. His six solo tackles that included two for loss and one sack were part of a Rams' defensive line that constantly pressured Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray throughout Monday night. It was his sixth sack in five games since coming over to L.A., after not recording a sack in his first four contests with his new club.
Miller's emergence as an elite pass rusher was precisely what the Rams hoped for when they sent a second and third-round pick for the 32-year-old sack artist. Miller has caused defenses to not solely key in on the All-Pro Aaron Donald, giving them more to worry about with him coming off the edge and Leonard Floyd serving as the other bookend. With Miller's speed rush combined with Donald's bull-rush from the inside, the Rams have elite options along the defensive line that will challenge Tampa Bay's offensive line in the Divisional Round.
A lifelong Denver Bronco before the trade deadline, Miller has proved he still has the elite ability to get to the quarterback and make game-changing plays on defense.
Offensively, Beckham has been just what the Rams needed when Robert Woods suffered a season-ending injury. When Beckham hit the free-agent market after his dramatic split from Cleveland, the Rams signed Beckham and ensured he wouldn't head to Green Bay. While it was viewed as more of a luxury signing at the time, he's proven to be a critical weapon for quarterback Matthew Stafford.
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Beckham put together his most complete performance as a Ram in Monday night's victory. His touchdown in the first quarter came off a beautiful fade route to the back corner of the endzone. The throw by Stafford cleared Cardinals rookie cornerback Marco Wilson, and into a jumping Beckham's arms. Later in the half, Stafford and Beckham would connect again for a 31-yard gain.
The most impressive play of the evening may have been Beckham's pass to Cam Akers. Stafford took the snap, lateraled the ball to Beckham in which he uncorked a pass that found Akers on a wheel route up the right sideline for a 40-yard gain. With 54 yards receiving and 40 yards passing, Beckham became the first player in NFL playoff history to post at least 40 yards in each of those categories.
It's clear that Beckham still has a lot left in the tank. His years in Cleveland will be remembered by injuries and inconsistency at the quarterback position. However, in L.A., Beckham has proved that he still has the speed, route-running ability and hands to be a high-quality NFL wide receiver.
Beckham and Miller helped push the Rams to an NFC West Division championship and are looking to continue their contributions toward a deep postseason run in which they'll head to Raymond James Stadium to clash against seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.
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