The Rams started the final game of the regular season with some serious defense.
Los Angeles slammed the door shut on the 49ers' first three offensive drives at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum with three-straight takeaways to start the game and four total first-half takeaways, en route to a 48-32 victory.
Third-year linebacker Cory Littleton had two interceptions in the Rams' first half of dictating on defense. Littleton picked off a tipped pass from quarterback Nick Mullens for the Rams' second takeaway of the first quarter before carrying the ball 22 yards to the San Francisco 13-yard line — setting up ideal field position for the Rams' second touchdown of the afternoon.
Then, after an interception by safety Blake Countess, Littleton was at it again early in the second quarter — jumping wide receiver Richie James Jr.'s route and handing Mullens his third interception of the game. Littleton took his second pick 19 yards to the end zone for his first-career defensive touchdown.
Littleton's pick six capped off a dismantling first half of takeaways against Mullens and the Niners. The young quarterback trotted into the locker room 11-of-19 with a touchdown and three interceptions.
The Rams' four takeaways on Sunday is the most generated since Week 11, when the defense took it away from quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs five times on Monday Night Football.
"One of the most exciting moments of my life," Littleton said of his second interception of the first half. "It's something that I've never done, I've been playing football for like 16 years and I finally got a touchdown, so it's amazing."
Littleton had two career interceptions entering Week 17, but never a touchdown. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers said his defensive signal-caller making plays like he did on Sunday is par of the course.
"For me, it's a play that we look for him to make," Brockers said before providing a bit of a look into defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' game plan.
"We knew they had a younger quarterback — it think he's their third string, fourth string or something like that. If we can get some pressure in his face, there's no way he will be able to complete passes and see who he was throwing to."
"Certain guys just have a knack for being in the right place at the right time," head coach Sean McVay said after the game. "He's got such great athleticism, whether it's as a blitzer — obviously, you see him make some picks today. And then he can cover, he can run. He's a guy that you win with — players like Cory Littleton."
Littleton played a big part in ensuring McVay's Rams clinched the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round playoff bye. Littleton leads the Rams with 125 tackles in 2018 — a season that the former Washington Husky admitted has been a learning experience, after taking over as the defensive signal-caller when linebacker Alec Ogletree was traded in March.