By Steve Finley
The Los Angeles Rams are one game away from the Super Bowl after they beat the Dallas Cowboys 30-22 last Saturday in the NFC divisional playoff game at the Coliseum in front of 77,187 fans. Three years ago the Rams were one of the worst teams in the NFL and now they are one of the best.
How did that happen? If you had point to the main reason for such a tremendous turn around it’s the Rams head coach Sean McVay. In two years McVay has changed the culture and the mind set of this team. He has assembled an outstanding coaching staff and he has brought in players that believe in his system. “Coach McVay is a great coach,” said Rams running back Todd Gurley II after their win over the Cowboys. “It all starts with the coaches.”
One of McVay’s special projects has been developing the Rams young quarterback, Jared Goff. In 2016 Goff was a green rookie who appeared to be headed in the wrong direction. Now he is one of the best signal callers in the league.
On Sunday at 12 p.m. the Rams will face the Saints for a chance to play in the Super Bowl. The Rams lost to the Saints during the regular season 45-35 on November 4, at New Orleans. Now they return to New Orleans and try to win in one of the hardest stadiums to play in.
To beat the Saints they will need to duplicate their effort against the Cowboys. Their one, two running back combination of Todd Gurley II inside and outside and C.J. Anderson inside will have to be running on all cylinders to beat the Saints. They combined for 238 yards running the ball against the Cowboys. “They are a great compliment to each other,” said McVay after their win over Dallas.
“To be able to run for over 270 yards and hold them to 50 yards was great,” said McVay. “We knew it was going to be a physical game. I thought C.J. and Todd were outstanding and the offensive line was great from the start and our defense got some key stops to close out the game.”
The running game also helps the passing game. Ram quarterback Goff threw for 186 yards against the Cowboys, completing 15 of 28 passes with no interceptions. The last few games everyone is talking about their running game but to beat New Orleans the Rams will also need to successfully pass the ball. “It feels great to have two 100 yard rushers,” said Goff. “Whenever you run the ball like that it takes a lot of pressure off of the passing game.
Gurley was also happy with the results on Saturday. “When we dominate the line of scrimmage we will probably win the game. We have been doing that all season. I could not run for all of those yards without our offensive line. It starts with controlling the line of scrimmage and that balance between passing and running.”
The Rams were built for this moment. Whether they seize the moment, we will find out on Sunday.