MINNEAPOLIS – A big day by running back Sony Michel and timely plays by their defense and their special teams lifted the Rams (11-4) to a 30-23, playoff-clinching win over the Vikings (7-8) on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The victory also gave the Rams control of first place in the NFC West.
Michel kept the Rams offense moving with 27 carries for 131 yards and one touchdown.
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp tied Torry Holt (2003)'s franchise record 100-yard receiving game in a single season with his 10th on Sunday, finishing with 10 catches for 109 yards. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. hauled in his fourth touchdown catch in five games, also finishing with four receptions for 37 yards.
On special teams, wide receiver Brandon Powell had a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown, the Rams' first since 2015 and first special teams and non-offensive touchdown of the season.
Meanwhile, linebacker Travin Howard recorded his first interception of his career, plus four total tackles and two pass breakups. He played most of the game in place of rookie linebacker Ernest Jones, who exited the game late in the first quarter with an ankle injury and was ruled out in the second half.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 21 of 37 pass attempts for 197 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Here is the complete game recap:
After a third-down stop by their defense on the opening series, the Rams offense returned the favor with a 1-yard touchdown run by Michel on the ensuing drive to take a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Los Angeles' kickoff coverage unit did its job on the ensuing kickoff, stopping Minnesota at their own 9. That didn't stop Minnesota from reaching the L.A. 9, but linebacker Travin Howard, who replaced an injured Ernest Jones (ankle) on the drive, corralled a deflected Kirk Cousins pass for an interception in the endzone, which he then returned 19 yards to the L.A. 17 for a big redzone stop. However, the Rams were forced to punt on the ensuing possession and unable to come away with points.
The Rams lost center Brian Allen to injury with 10:41 left in the second quarter and had to reshuffle their offensive line, moving Edwards back to left guard, Shelton back to center and putting in rookie Alaric Jackson in at left tackle. Still, they didn't miss a beat, allowing Michel to keep churning out runs that set up an eventual 32-yard field goal by kicker Matt Gay for a 10-0 lead with 6:40 left in the second quarter.
The Vikings had another prime scoring chance a little over two minutes later after linebacker Anthony Barr intercepted Stafford, setting them up at the Rams 11-yard line. However, thanks in part to a sack for a 7-yard loss by Los Angeles defensive lineman Greg Gaines, Minnesota was held to a 23-yard field goal, cutting L.A.'s lead to 7 with 2:34 left in the first half.
Gay later drilled a 31-yard field goal to extend the Rams' lead to 13-3 just before halftime.
Stafford was intercepted a second time on the opening drive of the second-half, but the Rams defense stepped up and stopped the Vikings at midfield following the change of possession, forcing them to punt.
However, Stafford was intercepted again on the ensuing possession, as Barr's second pick set the Vikings up at the Rams 2. Running back Alexander Mattison punched it in on the ensuing play to reduce the Rams' lead to 3 with 11:10 left in the third quarter.
Powell then provided a spark with a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown put them up 20-10 midway through the third quarter.
The Vikings reached the Rams 6-yard line on the ensuing possession, but another redzone stand by the Rams defense forced them to settle for a 24-yard field goal, reducing the Rams' lead to seven.
The Rams answered with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Beckham Jr. to make it 27-13 with 11:37 left in the fourth quarter, only to have the Vikings respond with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to wide receiver K.J. Osborn, cutting the Rams' lead back to seven with 8:21 remaining.
Gay's 24-yard field goal with 2:03 remaining gave the Rams a 30-20 lead. The Vikings added a 44-yard field goal with 32 seconds left, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Rams, allowing them to run out the remaining time and punch their ticket to the playoffs.