Rams Week 16 report card: Grading every position vs. Vikings

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  • Los Angeles Rams
    Los Angeles Rams
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  • Minnesota Vikings
    Minnesota Vikings
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  • Matthew Stafford
    Matthew Stafford
    Lions quarterback
  • Van Jefferson
    Van Jefferson
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It wasn’t perfect nor the Rams’ best performance of the season, but they still managed to beat the Vikings on the road Sunday, 30-23. They won despite Matthew Stafford’s three interceptions, with two of those setting Minnesota up inside the 15-yard line.

The defense played well and Sony Michel ran like a mad man, helping make up for Stafford’s mistakes. He was really one of the few Rams players who struggled considerably in Week 16, which is reflected in our report card from Sunday’s win.

Quarterback: D

This was Matthew Stafford’s worst game as a member of the Rams. He threw three interceptions and just one touchdown pass, posting a rating of 46.8. He missed Odell Beckham Jr. on a couple of throws, including one where Beckham was wide open on a deep crosser that could’ve gone for a touchdown if Stafford hit the receiver in stride. Instead, he left it way short and it fell incomplete. The Rams are fortunate to have won this game with the way Stafford played.

Running back: A

Sony Michel played a great game against the Vikings, rushing for 131 yards on 27 carries. He could still use some work in pass protection, but he ran the ball well and gained 72 yards after contact. Darrell Henderson only had one carry in his five snaps played before getting injured, but he turned it into a 17-yard gain. Michel helped carry the offense when Stafford was unable to take care of the ball.

Wide receiver: B

Cooper Kupp once again dominated the target share at wide receiver and did most of the heavy lifting, gaining 109 yards on 10 catches. Odell Beckham Jr. was second among the Rams’ receivers with 37 yards, while Van Jefferson had just one catch for 6 yards. Beckham was getting open, Stafford just couldn’t hit him.

Tight end: B+

Tyler Higbee returned after missing two games due to COVID-19, immediately making an impact as a receiver and blocker. He caught five passes for 41 yards, including a tough grab on third down. He was great as a run blocker, too, clearing out defenders on the right side when aligned next to Rob Havenstein. Kendall Blanton and Brycen Hopkins didn’t do much in this one.

Offensive line: A

Given the circumstances, the performance from the Rams’ offensive line was incredible on Sunday. Alaric Jackson was a road-grader at left tackle when the Rams shifted their offensive line due to Brian Allen’s injury, dominating in the running game. David Edwards played well at both left tackle and left guard, and though Coleman Shelton struggled a bit, he didn’t allow a single sack. No one on the Rams did. It was a great performance without two starters up front.

Defensive line: A

Aaron Donald did what Aaron Donald does, recording seven pressures, three tackles for a loss and one sack in the game – also making five stops against the run. A’Shawn Robinson stepped up with two stops and two pressures, as well, while Greg Gaines had five pressures in only 44 snaps despite breaking his hand. It was a strong showing from the defensive line.

Inside linebacker: B+

Ernest Jones injured his ankle in the first quarter after just 11 snaps and had to be replaced by Travin Howard and Troy Reeder. Fortunately, both of them played well in his place. Howard had two pass breakups, including one interception, and Reeder finished third on the team with six tackles. The coverage from Reeder could’ve been better but it’s hard to complain about the way either guy played.

Outside linebacker: B-

Leonard Floyd didn’t put up big numbers with just two pressures and two stops, but he made four total tackles and landed one of the Rams’ two hits on Kirk Cousins. His tackle for a loss in the red zone came at a key moment, as well. Von Miller could’ve played better, pressuring Cousins only twice and failing to hit him a single time.

Cornerback: B+

Jalen Ramsey was all over Justin Jefferson in coverage, allowing very little space and giving up five catches for just 35 yards in the entire game – not just to Jefferson. Darious Williams made a key play to break up a pass that was intercepted by Howard in the end zone, but he struggled in coverage otherwise. David Long Jr and Dont’e Deayon were better, outside of Deayon’s 21-yard reception allowed to Jefferson.

Safety: C

Nick Scott and Jordan Fuller were two of the Rams’ lowest-graded defenders, according to PFF. Fuller missed one tackle and didn’t make a single stop, allowing 54 yards on three catches in coverage. Scott gave up 24 yards himself, with all 18 of his snaps coming on passing plays. Taylor Rapp was thankfully solid, making six tackles.

Special teams: A

Finally, a quality performance from the special teams unit. Brandon Powell returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown, Matt Gay drilled all three of his field goal attempts and Johnny Hekker averaged 54 yards per punt. The Rams also pinned the Vikings deep on two kickoffs, one of which was a unique dropkick by Gay into the corner at the 1-yard line.

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