Much has been made throughout the week of the fact that cornerback Aqib Talib didn't play in the Week 9 matchup between the Rams and Saints, and now he's back.
The defense has been playing better since Talib's return, to be sure. Players and coaches alike have acknowledged the benefits of the veteran corner both on and off the field.
But on Friday, safety John Johnson explained exactly where that's come into play.
In the Divisional round victory over the Cowboys, Johnson said there was a play that Talib predicted even before Dallas left the huddle.
The situation? Dallas had 4th-and-1 at the L.A. 42 in the fourth quarter. The Rams were up 30-15 after C.J. Anderson ran in a one-yard touchdown on 4th-and-goal from the one. Dallas had gone for it on fourth down multiple times earlier in the game — including to start the fourth quarter, where L.A. stuffed running back Ezekiel Elliott behind the line of scrimmage.
But this time, Talib figured what was coming.
"[H]e called something out and I couldn't believe it — I had to believe it. It went just exactly how he said it in the game," Johnson said. "He converted, right. But, we completely just went rouge of what the coverage was. It worked for us, but he kind of got around and got the first down."
The Rams weren't quite able to stop the Cowboys on the play, as Prescott faked to Elliott, then rolled to his right before scrambling for just enough to get a first down. But Prescott had to use his legs because the Rams were able to get the receivers covered in the flat and on the intermediate level — leaving him no other option.
Johnson has said before that Talib's presence puts everyone on the defense "at ease." If he improves communication that much in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, it should be a significant boost to the Rams' chances for a victory.
"He knows everything," Johnson said. "He's played in this league for a long time so it's great to have him with us."