Five Takeaways: All Three Phases Contribute in Win over Chargers

The Rams have a quick turnaround to get ready for their Thursday night matchup with the Vikings at the Coliseum. But they were able to take care of business on Sunday, defeating the Charters 35-23 to improve to 3-0 on the young season. 

Here are five takeaways from the Week 3 matchup between the two Southern California teams.

1) CORY LITTLETON IS REALLY GOOD AT BLOCKING PUNTS

When Cory Littleton broke into the league, he did it as a special teams ace for coordinator John Fassel back in 2016. Last year, the Rams liked Littleton's ability so much that they put in packages for him to play on defense. But he was still that same special teams ace and ended up blocking a pair of punts. 

Now, Littleton has become Los Angeles' defensive signal-caller. But that hasn't stopped him from being a part of the punt return team. And he did what he does best on Sunday, blocking another punt. 

With the Chargers backed up to their own four-yard line, punter Drew Kaser was forced to set up to kick deep in his own end zone. Littleton got terrific penetration in the middle of the punt formation, laid out, and nearly took ball off Kaser's foot. The pigskin fell not far from Littleton, where safety Blake Countess fell on it for a special teams touchdown. 

"I had somebody lead it out for me, give me a clear opening. Then, basically, with any blocked punt, you just have to believe in the plan and hope everything works — trust in it," Littleton said. "I believe in it and launched out and got the block." 

Littleton now has three blocked punts since the start of the 2017 season. 

"I just think it's his quickness, and then I think also 'Bones' does a great job putting guys in good spots and then they make plays," head coach Sean McVay said, referring to Fassel. "That was a turning point in the game for us right there." 

That special teams touchdown came just after quarterback Jared Goff threw an interception in the red zone, and gave the Rams a 21-6 lead.

2) GOFF LIGHTS IT UP 

That interception was one of Goff's only poor plays of the game. The third-year signal-caller out of Cal was razor sharp on Sunday, completing 80.5 percent of his 36 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns. Ironically, it's the second week in a row Goff has finished with 354 yards passing — just one-yard shy of his career high. 

But Goff's performance on Sunday was historic, as he became just the third player in NFL history to throw for at least 350 yards while completing at least 75 percent of his passes in consecutive games. The others are Trent Green — who accomplished the feat in 2004 — and the Buccaneers' Ryan Fitzpatrick — who did it over the first two weeks this year. 

"I thought Jared was outstanding," McVay said postgame. "I think you just see the ownership, the comfort level as he's accumulating these reps against certain defensive structures or systems. He's putting these in the memory bank and I think that shows up where he's more comfortable and then guys are making plays as well."

Overall this season, Goff has completed 70.3 percent of his passes for 941 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. He said postgame that he's feeling more confident as he gains more experience, which is allowing him to fit passes into tighter windows. 

"I think I'm getting more comfortable with anticipating stuff and anticipating windows and that may be part of it. That just happens as you grow and get better," Goff said. "So yeah, that may be part of it, but like I said, I feel good right now and I feel confident."

Check out game photos from the Rams' Week 3 matchup against the Chargers at the Coliseum.

3) SUH GETS FIRST SACK AS A RAM

The Rams' defensive line has been influencing and affecting plays throughout the early going of the season. But it's always nice to get home and bring the quarterback down. 

That's what defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was able to do on Sunday, getting to quarterback Philip Rivers for his first sack of the season — and first sack as an L.A. Ram. 

Late in the third quarter on 1st-and-10 from the Rams' 35, Suh lined up outside the right tackle, setting up to pass rush as a defensive end. Suh bull rushed his way into the backfield, and when Rivers tried to step up, Suh shed the right tackle, went back inside, and tackled Rivers for a four-yard loss. 

The Rams recorded two sacks on the day — though the other came on wide receiver Keenan Allen when he was in the backfield for a trick play. But because the Rams allowed 356 yards of offense and 23 points, Suh said he wasn't necessarily thrilled with the defensive performance as a whole. 

"I would say at the end of the day we have to play better. We gave up too many points," Suh said. "Obviously, he's an elite quarterback, he's going to make plays. We have to find a way to stop the run. We did a pretty good job in the first half. I think we were at 44-yards but gave up too much in the second half. We have to prepare and get ready for Thursday night."

4) SNEAKY GOOD GAME FROM GURLEY

Running back Todd Gurley has quietly been one of the league's leading rushers through the first three weeks of the season. He's No. 1 in rushing attempts at 62, tied for No. 1 with four rushing touchdowns, and is No. 4 in rushing yards with 255. 

Gurley is also the league's leading scorer with 34 points. He's No. 1 with five total touchdowns, and also has a pair of two-point conversions to average 11.3 points per game. 

The Georgia product finished Sunday with 23 carries for 105 yards on the ground. Gurley also had five receptions for 51 yards, giving him a total of 156 yards from scrimmage. 

Gurley also totaled 147 yards in Week 1, making for a strong start to the season.

5) 'SITUATIONAL MASTERS'

A significant part of Gurley's success has come late in the game when the Rams are trying to bleed the clock to win. On Sunday, nine of Gurley's 23 carries came in the fourth quarter, and they went for 53 yards. And when the Rams got the ball back with 4:23 left, Gurley and fellow running back Malcolm Brown ran the ball so well that the home team didn't have to give the ball back for the rest of the contest. 

In fact, Brown delivered the final blow, taking a handoff five yards up the middle on 3rd-and-1 just after the two-minute warning to give the Rams a needed first down to close the game. 

Gurley is currently averaging 5.0 yards per carry in the second half, and 6.4 yards per carry in the fourth quarter. 

The running back said that's all about being "situational masters," with Fassel setting up the team for success in that area throughout the week of preparation. 

"That's a great feeling, man. That's stuff coach 'Bones' — he does a great job with situational awareness, making sure that we're situational masters," Gurley said. "And we just work on a lot of stuff at practice — whether it's four minute, two-minute, last play of the game, scramble. The coaches do such a good job of putting us in great situations, so once it comes, at the end of the day, we know we have go nut up and go out there and keep the ball out of the opposing offense's hands."

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