INGLEWOOD, Calif. – With the Giants keeping things close due to both their offensive and defensive execution, and the consequent missed opportunities by the Rams offense, it became apparent that the Rams' defense would be needing more than just one stop.
Similar to previous games, it was a position they embraced.
"Defense, that's why we're out there. No matter how rough it gets, we're the backbone," said Los Angeles cornerback Darious Williams, who had the game-clinching interception in the Rams' 17-9 victory. "We've always got our offense's back."
They proved as much midway through the fourth quarter, when the pressure was seemingly at its highest for the Rams.
A 27-yard field goal by New York kicker Graham Gano had trimmed Los Angeles' lead to one with 14:15 remaining, then L.A.'s offense went 3-and-out. On the ensuing offensive series, running back Wayne Gallman's 26-yard run, 4-yard run and 3-run had the Giants in Rams territory.
However, facing a 3rd and 3 from the Rams 47, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones' pass short left to wide receiver Golden Tate resulted in a one-yard loss thanks to the instincts of Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The 3rd-down stop helped set up a pivotal 55-yard touchdown touchdown pass from Rams quarterback Jared Goff to wide receiver Cooper Kupp.
"We just couldn't get into a rhythm offensively, but defense did a great job," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "You win as a team, and I thought they made enough plays to be able to win."
Neither team had much success on third down. The Rams were 5 of 13, while the Giants were 4 of 13, but the Rams were able to get the stops when it mattered most. It wasn't always on third down, either – just look at how the game ended.
After Goff's touchdown pass to Kupp gave the Rams an 8-point lead, their defense responded with cornerback Darious Williams getting the game-sealing interception on 2nd and 5 from their own 18.
In a way, it's representative of timely takeaways and stops that have become a habit for the unit through the first quarter of the season.
In Week 1 against the Cowboys, it was rookie safety Jordan Fuller stopping Dallas wide receiver CeeDee Lamb a yard short of the line to on 4th and 3 in the redzone. In Week 2 against the Eagles, Williams and cornerback Troy Hill each had a pair of momentum-changing interceptions in the second half. And while Week 3 against the Bills was a loss, safety John Johnson III's interception and Aaron Donald's sack-fumble were still critical plays that put the Rams in position to rally.
"We have 11 guys on the field that at any time one of these guys can make a big play, make a game changing play, (so) you tend to continue to close out games and make big plays like that when we need it," Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said.