Los Angeles improved to 8-0 on Sunday, taking down Green Bay 29-27 in a tight battle at the L.A. Coliseum. With the Rams remaining the leagues only undefeated team in 2018, here are five takeaways from the latest W.
1) WORKING IN TANDEM
Teams in the NFL are often at their best when each of the three phases work together in order to make an impact. That's exactly what happened for Los Angeles late in the second quarter.
After a Los Angeles drive stalled at the home team's 47, punter Johnny Hekker bounced a kick deep in Green Bay territory and cornerback Sam Shields downed the punt at the one-yard line. On the next play, linebacker Mark Barron stuffed running back Aaron Jones inside the end zone for a safety — giving L.A. its first two points of the day.
Then after getting the ball back on the ensuing free kick, the Rams drove 72 yards and finished the possession with wide receiver Josh Reynolds first touchdown of the season.
That was an ideal sequence and got Los Angeles right back in the game before the half.
2) "MR. AUTOMATIC"
With everything that has gone on in the Rams' last two victories, it might be a bit easy to overlook one of the team's biggest factors in the wins — kicker Greg Zuerlein.
In what has been a particularly rough year for kickers cross the league, Zuerlein has been as consistent as they come. He connected on both of his field goal attempts on Sunday, from 43- and 34-yards out. And he also put four of his six kickoffs in the end zone — three of which Green Bay elected to keep in the box for touchbacks.
The one returner Ty Montgomery elected to take out of the end zone? Linebacker Ramik Wilson made him pay with a forced fumble late in the fourth quarter that led to the Rams icing the game.
So far in 2018, Zuerlein has connected on 9-of-10 field goals — with his only miss coming off the infield dirt in Oakland during Week 1. He's also hit 8-of-8 extra-point attempts.
The Rams take on the Packers at the Coliseum in Week 8.
3) LITTLETON CONTINUES TO SHINE
Inside linebacker Cory Littleton has been one of the most effective Rams on defense throughout the course of the season, and that continued in Sunday's game.
Littleton once again led L.A. in tackles, recording eight combined — one for loss. He also had a sack in the matchup, taking down quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the first quarter for a loss of 14 yards.
Despite playing all 52 defensive snaps in the contest, Littleton played nine special teams snaps, too. He's been making a significant impact all over the field for Los Angeles this season, and his continued growth is key to the defense's success.
4) THE FAKE WORKS
Punter Johnny Hekker has mostly been holder Johnny Hekker throughout the first half of the season. But the Rams also dialed up Hekker's arm at just the right time on Sunday with a fake punt.
With the offense having a tough time getting anything going in the second quarter, Hekker fielded a snap from Jake McQuaide, cocked his right arm, and fired a pass to cornerback Sam Shields on 4th-and-3 to gain 12 yards and a first down. It was the first reception of Shields' career.
"It was a play we'd been looking at all week," Shields said. "People respecting my speed, we felt like if I could run fast and then stop, of course they were going to keep running. And that's what happened."
Los Angeles wasn't able to sustain the drive past the next set of downs, with three incomplete passes. But Hekker displayed that he's still got it when it comes to fake punts.
5) UP NEXT…
Arguably the two best teams in the NFC will meet on Sunday when the Rams take on the Saints at the Superdome. This will be the third time in three years that L.A. will play New Orleans, and the teams have split the last two meetings.
The Rams finished the 2018 preseason in New Orleans, but the last regular-season game the Rams played in that building was back in 2016 when quarterback Jared Goff made his second career start. He played well in the first half of that game, tossing three touchdown passes in a 49-21 loss.
Last year's matchup against the Saints went much better for L.A., as the team won 26-20 at the Coliseum. In that matchup, Goff threw for 354 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
If the season continues to go as it has in the first half, this game could have significant implications for late December and January.