By Lucy Rendler-Kaplan //@lucyRK78
Rams 31 – Cardinals 9
Admit it. You (read: ME!) were a bit scared upon learning that LA Rams running back Todd Gurley wasn’t going to be playing Sunday. Sidelined with a bum left knee, I WAS nervous that might have the potential to lead us to a third consecutive loss. Luckily, the Rams newest pickup, running back C.J. Anderson more than stepped up in Gurley’s absence, rushing for more than 160 yards and getting a touchdown.
It’s not that I don’t have confidence in the team. I still think the Rams will win the Super Bowl. Losing two games in a row was just so odd and not something we have seen the Rams do this season. So, ok. I got nervous. I’m over it now and when a friend texted me late Sunday night asking “Do you think we can beat the 49ers?” I immediately replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!”
I get a lot of heat for writing about two teams that are NOT my hometown Chicago Bears. So I find it ironic, and a bit “funny” that the Rams needed the Bears to lose to the San Francisco 49ers in order to lock up the second seed in the NFC. (The New Orleans Saints claimed the No. 1 seed with a victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Steelers) “Funny” in the way that’s not funny, but more of a shake your head a say “REALLY?!” because we all have been told forever that you “don’t bet against the home team.” But I often need to.
Last week, I really needed to, when Green Bay came to town, and that game would dictate if the Packers season was over or not. Ultimately, we saw the Bears win 14-9, just minutes after the Rams/Cardinals game finished.
So the Rams go into the final week of the regular season with the second-best record in the NFC. Solid. They have the opportunity to clinch and get a bye through the wild-card round in the final week of the regular season either by getting a win against the 49ers (which should happen) or by the Bears losing to the Minnesota Vikings (which could happen).
I always like my team to score first. I have a weird superstition that whichever team gets on the board first, wins the game. So when quarterback Jared Goff lost a fumble that led to the Arizona Cardinals scoring on the opening drive, I felt a twinge of “oh no. Not again.” But nope! NOT again! Goff returned to his usual MVP caliber form for the rest of the game Sunday. He ended the game completing 19 of 24 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown, and also rushed for a touchdown.
I’ve found it strange that defensive tackle Aaron Donald hasn’t been praised by mainstream media that much this season. I usually always find plays of his to mention in my recaps, but he’s certainly inserted himself into the narrative of the Rams amazing season.
Going into the game Sunday, Donald had 16.5 sacks and needed to do one better than 18 sacks to grab defensive tackle single-season record (previously set by Minnesota Vikings DT Keith Millard in 1989). With THREE sacks, Aaron Donald has now claimed the Rams franchise record, completing 19.5 sacks. The record was previously held by Robert Quinn and his 19 sacks in a single season.
You always hate to jinx things by putting certain things in writing or even saying things out loud, BUT…IF Donald can get three more sacks next week against the 49ers, he will tie the NFL’s record for the most sacks ever in a single season. Giants Hall of Fame defensive end, Michael Strahan currently holds that title. I did a bit of research to remember that the last time Donald faced San Francisco, he recorded FOUR sacks, so it’s more than doable!
I’d love to hear your score predictions for our upcoming game against the 49ers. Do YOU think Gurley should play, even if he’s perfectly fine? After watching Anderson, I would rather have him in the game and give Gurley’s knee one extra week to heal. I’d rather he’s at 100% for the playoffs than take any chances.
Tweet Lucy your score predictions and talk Rams with her on Twitter @LucyRK78