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Rams Defense Falters Against Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Even against a depleted Packers offensive line, the Rams failed to create any magic against Aaron Rodgers on Sunday.

There is something about Aaron Rodgers in the home green uniforms and a white turtleneck breathing in the frigid December air at Lambeau Field. 

Last night, that certain something orchestrated pure dominance over the Los Angeles Rams defense. After a bye week, allowing additional time for preparation and hearing about the Packers' long list of injuries along the offensive line, the Rams defense did nothing to expose Green Bay's backup offensive lineman as L.A. fell short in their Week 12 contest, dropping its third consecutive game by the final score of 36-28 in Green Bay.

First and foremost, the Rams allowed Green Bay to dominate the time of possession battle. The Packers held the ball for 39 minutes and 40 seconds of the game. Even though L.A. held the Packers to just 92 yards rushing, Green Bay put together a surplus of drives where the Rams simply could not get off the field on 3rd down.

Green Bay produced a 15-play drive to begin the first half, and they responded with a similar 13-play drive to begin the second half. Although Green Bay has struggled to set the tone early and often against teams this season, the Rams allowed Packers coach Matt LaFleur to run whatever version of his offense that he chose. From runs up the middle to deep passes over the top and everything in between, the Packers converted quite regularly. 

When the Packers weren’t draining the clock, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris’ unit did little to create any pressure on Rodgers. After suffering from a toe injury and missing time on the COVID-19 list, Rodgers has accumulated very limited snaps in practice over the past three weeks. With him visibly limping at times, the Rams could not take advantage of a hobbled Rodgers as there wasn't much of a consistent pass rush from the Rams' front four. Ultimately, the Rams logged just one sack, which was a scramble chase-down by Greg Gaines.

While L.A. allowed 92 yards rushing in totality, they did hold running back Aaron Jones to 2.3 yards per attempt. However, a rushing touchdown by Rodgers at the goal line and a consistent punishing attack from A.J. Dillon up the gut, propelled the Packers to expose the Rams in the play-action game.

“We have too many good players to be playing like this,” Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said after the game.

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With the midseason addition of Von Miller, the Rams now have a defensive line that includes Miller, Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd. That’s three veterans that pose a threat, meaning there's little excuse for the type of lackluster performance against a Packers' offensive line that started a third-string left tackle, rookie left guard and rookie right guard that the Rams saw on Sunday.

After finishing last season as the No. 1 defensive group, Morris’ unit sits middle of the pack – No. 15 – in yards allowed per game on the year. Following three losses where the Rams allowed an average of 31.6 points per game, Morris will have to get his unit back to its form in order to make noise down the stretch run of the season.

“There’s still six weeks left," McVay said. "That’s a lot of football and this story is not written yet. We’ve got the pen and we need to make sure we control what we can control."

Up next, the Rams face off against the Jacksonville Jaguars. McVay and company will have a chance to right the ship before divisional matchups against the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks loom in the weeks following. Sitting at 7-4 and fifth place in the NFC playoff picture, the Rams will need their defensive unit to perform at a higher level than they've shown in recent weeks.

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