Five Takeaways: Rams 42-7 Victory over Seattle

Los Angeles was able to break into double-digit victories on Sunday, with its 42-7 blowout win over Seattle. Not only did the W solidify the Rams' position atop the NFC West, but it also kept the club at No. 3 in the NFC.

Here are five takeaways from the Week 15 win.

1) Taking control of the NFC West

Sporting a 10-4 record, the Rams have a two-game lead over the Seahawks in the NFC West with just two games left. That means any L.A. victory or Seattle loss in the next two weeks will clinch Los Angeles' division title.

To get there, the Rams had to take care of business at CenturyLink Field. And while beating the Seahawks is a tall task, L.A. was clearly up to the challenge.

"I think our guys understood that it was a big opportunity to be able to come in here and try to take a two-game lead in our division with two games left," McVay said postgame. "I think the guys understood, after coming off a tough loss, what it was going to take to come in here to get a win. They were ready to go."

As left tackle Andrew Whitworth put it, Sunday's result may have been surprising to those outside of the Rams' building. But inside? The club has high expectations and standards.

"I think there was a lot of anger between us because we really just felt really disappointed in ourselves on how we played the first time we played them," Whitworth said. "We had a bunch of opportunities to win that game, we just didn't. I think that meant a lot to us to have that opportunity and to go get it. I think guys felt that all week, there was an emotion behind that all week and it showed today."

And because the Seahawks have been so good for so long, you want to take advantage of every single scoring opportunity.

"Everybody was doing their job, everybody was doing their job, out there competing and we didn't want to let up, you know?" said running back Todd Gurley, who led the way with 180 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. "These guys have been kicking our [butt] for the last 10-15 years so, you know you have to enjoy it, you have to take advantage of a situation like this."

2) Another opening-possession takeaway

The Rams' defense has recorded a takeaway on an opening possession in seven games this year.

That's half of the contests this year, which is fairly remarkable.

Safety Lamarcus Joyner recorded the Rams' third opening-possession takeaway in a row on Sunday, when he forced wide receiver Tanner McEnvoy to fumble after making a third-down reception. Middle linebacker Alec Ogletree recovered the loose ball for an early extra possession.

"We were just playing football — putting a helmet on a hat," Joyner said, downplaying the play a bit. "I can't sit here and lie and say it was fundamental attack or anything, it was just running to the football."
Joyner also recorded the Rams' opening-possession takeaway in their Week 13 victory over the Cardinals in Arizona. He's had a strong year, recording three interceptions, nine passes defensed, and a forced fumble in 2017.

3) Shutting down Seattle's offense

Quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' offense came into Sunday's contest performing well, but L.A. shut nearly everything down. Seattle finished with just 11 first downs and 149 yards. The club had just 71 net yards passing, in large part because of the seven sacks the Rams recorded on Wilson.

"Nothing should surprise you when you expect things," outside linebacker Robert Quinn said. "Even though every week may not go the way you want, you should expect to be dominant and that's kind of what we expected. Did we expect a win like this? Probably not, but we expected to play a great game again I think we played pretty great so far."

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald led that charge with 3.0 sacks on Sunday. He now has 11.0 on the season — tying a career high set in 2015.

And outside linebacker Robert Quinn has come on as of late, recording 2.0 sacks on Sunday. He's now sacked Wilson 13.0 times in his career, and has recorded 6.0 sacks in Los Angeles' last four games. Quinn's 8.5 sacks are the most he's had in a season since 2014, when he recorded 10.5.

"I think he's played well pretty consistently throughout, but I think just the production [is a product of] being able to finish," McVay said. "But he's affected and influenced the quarterback all year for the most part. You're very happy for Robert seeing him finish those plays and a come away with actually making the sacks."

4) Woods returns

While running back Todd Gurley was rightfully the headliner of Sunday's game on offense, wide receiver Robert Woods' return shouldn't be overlooked. The USC product caught six passes for 45 yards with a touchdown. And three of Woods' other receptions resulted in first downs.

"It was big, he does a lot of things that kind of go unnoticed in the run game and everything," quarterback Jared Goff said of having Woods back. "There was so much good stuff and getting him back today was big."

Goff often talks about the little things and contributions that Woods makes on the field. But the club also missed Woods' veteran presence and leadership when the wide receiver was out for three games with a shoulder injury.

McVay pointed specifically to wide receiver Tavon Austin's end around, where Woods blocked three Seahawks during the run.

"We joked about it that Rodger [Saffold] on the long run that Todd had against Philadelphia — he ended up blocking two people on the second play of the game last week. And Robert said, 'Well I see you get two, I'm going to go get three,'" McVay said. "He actually did a great job blocking the nickel, then he comes off on [Bobby] Wagner, then gets another shot on Michael Bennett. So, unbelievable play by receiver right there. You talk about guys competing without the ball. I think that demonstrates the football character of this team and especially Robert."

5) Littleton fills in

Inside linebacker Mark Barron suffered a knee injury early in Sunday's contest and did not return. And while Los Angeles likely noticed his absence, linebacker Cory Littleton filled in admirably at the position.

He finished with four tackles, one of which was on tight end Jimmy Graham for a loss on a Wilson bootleg pass.

"You see his speed show up, great recognition ability, makes a great play kind of on the little boot that they ran where Graham comes across the formation and he tackles him for minus-one yard," Graham said. "Cory has just stepped up."

The position wasn't altogether unfamiliar for Littleton, who spent most of the preseason practices and games next to Ogletree while the Rams looked to keep Barron fresh for the season.

McVay said the Rams will continue to monitor Barron, but it didn't sound like the linebacker would be out for too long.

"He just had a little knee soreness," McVay said. "We feel like Mark will be OK. We'll kind of just evaluate him day-to-day as the week progresses and we'll have more updates on Wednesday."

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