Rams are ‘learning different ways to win football games’ at just the right time

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  • Los Angeles Rams
    Los Angeles Rams
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Matthew Stafford
    Matthew Stafford
    Lions quarterback

With how pass-centric the NFL has become, wins and losses are often determined by how a team’s quarterback plays. That’s been the case for Matthew Stafford and the Rams throughout this season, but that has begun to change in December.

The Rams showed in Week 16 against the Vikings that they’re now capable of winning games even if Stafford struggles. That wasn’t necessarily the case last month when they lost three straight in November – during which he turned it over six times – but against Minnesota, the Rams won 30-23 despite Stafford throwing three picks.

Sean McVay doesn’t want his quarterback turning it over as often as Stafford did on Sunday, but he’s pleased to see that the Rams were able to pull out a win thanks to contributions from the defense and special teams.

McVay loves that his team is finding different ways to win games, not just by riding Stafford’s arm and the passing game.

“We’ve talked about playing complementary football. I think that’s been illustrated and reflected in a lot of ways, but what I was really pleased about is I think we’re learning different ways to win football games and I think that’s what the good teams do,” he said on the “Coach McVay Show” this week. “Yesterday, obviously, we want to try not to turn the football over like that offensively, but when you could feel the momentum was starting to shift in their favor a little bit, for the special teams to make a play at the most important time in that game to send us back up 10 when they cut it to a three-point game, they’re kicking back to us, that was a huge play. Thought the defense did a great job handling some sudden changes and then in spite of a lot of the adversity we faced offensively, thought Matthew made some of his most important plays in crunch time on some big third-down conversions. I love this team, I love the resilience of this group.”

Sony Michel’s emergence has been a big factor in the Rams’ four-game winning streak, leading the NFL in rushing yards this month. But the defense also stepped up against the Vikings by holding them to 23 points after Stafford set them up twice inside the 15-yard line.

And on special teams, Brandon Powell’s 61-yard punt return came at a pivotal moment after the Vikings had battled back into the game after Stafford’s two third-quarter interceptions.

Come playoff time, the Rams will need to play complementary football the way they did on Sunday – though, they could do without the turnovers. Stafford isn’t going to play lights out every week, so it’s critical for the defense and special teams to step up when needed.