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The Los Angeles Rams didn’t look like the overwhelming Super Bowl favorites on Sunday, but the Green Bay Packers still couldn’t take advantage.
The Packers played hard, and played perhaps their best overall game of the season. And it wasn’t enough. The Rams put together a late drive to get a field goal and the lead, then a special teams fumble ensured that Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t have a chance to bring the Packers back.
The Rams won 29-27 and are 8-0, the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL, and the Packers are a disappointing 3-3-1.
Los Angeles came up with the one big play needed to seal the win, and it wasn’t from one of its many stars on offense or defense. On a kickoff after the Rams took the lead, linebacker Ramik Wilson hit kickoff returner Ty Montgomery hard, and the ball popped out. The Rams recovered and were able to run out the clock.
The Rams have set the bar very high, and a win against a team as good as the Packers is very good no matter how it comes. But they did look beatable for the first time all season. The offense hit some rough patches, though it steered out of that skid and played well in the second half. Rodgers hit some big plays against Los Angeles’ defense. The Rams faced a 10-point deficit, their biggest of the season, and were losing in the fourth quarter too. And yet, they marched on to another win.
Packers started fast
The Packers played well, especially for most of the first half. In the first quarter they held the Rams scoreless, the first time that had happened in 13 quarters. They did so with great coverage and a lot of pressure up-the-middle from blitzes. The Rams just couldn’t get anything going, which hasn’t happened to them very often season.
A bad play call by the Packers got the Rams back in the game. Green Bay was backed up at its own 1-yard line, and instead of trusting Rodgers to get them out of a hole, they handed off up the middle. The Rams have the best set of defensive tackles in the NFL. The run was stuffed in the end zone for a safety, then the Rams took the ensuing free kick and scored. The Packers went from leading 10-0 to 10-8 almost instantly. That play call loomed large by the end of the game.
The Rams warmed up after that. They took a 10-point lead in the third quarter. It seemed like they had just worn down another opponent and were on to an easy win, but Rodgers got Green Bay right back in the game.
Rams rally in the fourth quarter
The Packers took a fourth-quarter lead on Rodgers’ 40-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. It looked like the Rams might get dealt their first loss, in a strange situation as the Los Angeles Coliseum was rocking with Packers fans. One could say if the Packers were a real Super Bowl contender they would have found a way to finish, but they haven’t shown yet this season that they’re the kind of team that can win a Super Bowl.
The Rams did enough to win. Aaron Donald had a big third-down sack right before his team went on a methodical game-winning drive. The offense got in position and Greg Zuerlein came through with the 34-yard field goal to give the Rams the lead. Then Wilson’s huge hit practically ended it.
The Rams looked a bit beatable on Sunday. But they still haven’t been defeated.
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