6 takeaways from Rams’ season-ending loss to Packers

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Cameron DaSilva
·5 min read
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After an up-and-down regular season, the Los Angeles Rams showed life in the playoffs with a 30-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card round. But one week later, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers gave them a reality check.

On the road, the Rams fell to the Packers 32-18 on Saturday afternoon, ending their season in the divisional round of the playoffs. It was a disappointing loss that ends the Rams’ season two wins shy of a Super Bowl appearance, but they can still feel good about the way they played this year.

Here are our six takeaways from the Rams’ season-ending loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Jared Goff was much better than expected

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into Saturday’s game, there was a lot of doubt surrounding Goff – especially given his history playing in the cold and with his thumb clearly not at 100%. They were warranted questions, but Goff silenced all of his doubters with a valiant performance against the Packers. He completed 21 of 27 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown, committing no turnovers and posting a passer rating of 105.9. He really didn’t make many mistakes at all in the game and was far from the reason the Rams lost on Saturday. Sure, he didn’t have a big yardage total, but Goff was accurate and productive, particularly given the circumstances. Sean McVay said himself after the game that Goff played really well, even despite the consistent pressure Green Bay got on him.

Cam Akers was the Rams' best playmaker once again

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

As if there was any doubt coming into this game how good Akers was, he proved once again that he’s the real deal. Akers carried it 18 times for 90 yards and a touchdown, and as impressive as that stat line is, it’s even better when you consider that his longest run was 13 yards. He had a ton of carries that went for 5-10 yards, grinding it out all game long. He didn’t have a 60-yard run like Aaron Jones, who gained just 39 yards on his other 13 attempts. Akers just wore down the defense run after run and showed why the Rams were so high on him in the draft. He’s going to be a focal point of the offense next season, earning the starting job for 2021 during this late-season run.

This defense isn’t the same without Aaron Donald

(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

For the first time in quite a while, we got a taste of what the Rams defense would be like without Donald. Though he was active and played in the game, it wasn’t the Aaron Donald we’ve been accustom to watching. He was battling through a rib injury and clearly was not fully healthy, playing just over half the defensive snaps. And even when he was out there, he struggled to get anything going; he only recorded one tackle in the game. The Packers were still doubling him, but his impact wasn’t close to what it usually is and the Rams’ entire defense felt the effects of it. The Packers racked up 484 yards – 188 rushing and 296 passing – and did just about whatever they wanted offensively. Rarely was there a negative play.

Third downs were the difference

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

When you can't convert on third down and the opposing team consistently does, it winds up being costly. The Rams were just 2-for-8 on third down, while the Packers converted on eight of their 12 attempts; really, 8-for-11 if you exclude Rodgers’ kneeldown to end the game. The Rams had chances to get off the field on third down, especially in the second half when they were trailing, but the Packers just could not be stopped. That was a major difference in the game because not only did the Rams fail to sustain long drives, but the defense was on the field for 36 minutes and 12 seconds.

Aaron Rodgers is the MVP favorite for a reason

(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

“If you knew nothing about football and you said, ‘What does it look like to feel like the game is in slow-motion and you’re just so in command and under control, that’s what it looks like when you watch this guy play and you don’t have to be anybody who knows what’s going on.” That’s how McVay described Rodgers, and it’s hard to put it any better. He’s the likely MVP for a reason and he showed exactly why on Saturday. He caught the Rams with too many players on the field, completing a pass for 27 yards on what was a free play. He got Leonard Floyd in the air with a pump fake on his 1-yard touchdown run. He wasn’t even his usually accurate self, yet he made things look so easy. Rodgers was a huge difference in this game and is the reason the Packers went 13-3 while also sitting one win away from the Super Bowl. Sometimes, you just have to tip your hat to the guy on the other side and respect what he did on offense. Because although the Rams had chances in this one, beating Rodgers was always going to be difficult.

Rams must invest in linebacker help this offseason

There aren’t a ton of weaknesses on this team, especially when looking at the defense. But inside linebacker is a position that must be addressed during the offseason. Troy Reeder had a rough game, missing a tackle badly in the hole on Aaron Jones’ 1-yard touchdown run. He was also swallowed up by blocks much too often, which is part of the reason the Packers were able to rush for 191 yards on only 32 carries by the running backs. Reeder and Kenny Young had their moments this season, but their weaknesses were exposed against the Packers. This is a position Los Angeles needs to improve at for 2021.

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