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Rams defense came up with timely takeaways and stops against Seahawks, will need them again against Packers

Like a good student of the game and the standout member of the Rams secondary he is, cornerback Darious Williams had done his homework. Because of teammate Jalen Ramsey's dominance, Williams said he knew the Seahawks would be moving wide receiver D.K. Metcalf away from Ramsey in order to get the ball to him.

Midway through the second quarter, they motioned Metcalf from Ramsey's side to Williams' side, but it didn't go according to plan.

Williams saw the screen pass intended for Metcalf coming the entire time, jumping it and then racing 42 yards to the endzone for a touchdown.

"I knew that they were going to try and feature him and get him the ball somehow, let him break tackles, and I just ran and jumped it," Williams said.

The pick-six was one of several timely takeaways and stops made by Los Angeles' defense in last Saturday's 30-20 Wild Card win at Seattle.

The Seahawks offense went 2 for 14 on third down, including failing to convert all five of their tries in the first half and first three of the second half. Their first successful conversion did not come until the 3:58 mark of the third quarter on a three-yard run by running back Carlos Hyde on 3rd and 1 from their own 40.

Los Angeles' most important defensive stand came on Seattle's final offensive possession, which ended with a first-down sack by outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, an incomplete pass by Wilson, a leaping third-down pass breakup by safety and special teams ace Nick Scott, and a 4th-and-15 game-clinching sack by defensive lineman Morgan Fox in succession.

All of this, despite Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald being sidelined with a rib injury for most of the second half.

"It's next man up," Rams safety John Johnson III said. "Obviously it's impossible to replicate what he does, but next man up, hold his own, make sure you get your job done and keep moving forward."

With starting quarterback John Wolford leaving the game with a neck injury and replacement Jared Goff 12 days removed from surgery on the thumb of his right (throwing) hand, there was no telling how the offense would function. While Goff came through, a performance like that was still needed from the defense – as was the case throughout the regular season – to come away with a win.

"I love this group and I think you can see as the season has gone on, they love to be able to have that pressure of the expectations of living up to what they've done (by) being the top unit in the league," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "I thought they answered the bell in a big way (Saturday)."

A similar challenge awaits in Saturday's divisional round game (1:35 p.m. PT, FOX) against the Packers in Green Bay, one that will require the same attention to detail shown by Williams this past weekend. 

Led by quarterback and NFL MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers' league-high 48 touchdown passes and wide receiver Davante Adams' league-high 18 touchdown catches, the Packers finished the regular season with the league's No. 1 scoring offense at 31.8 points per game. Green Bay also claimed the No. 8 rushing offense in the league (132.4 yards per game), powered primarily by running back Aaron Jones' 1,104 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

While this is the case with any NFL team, it's especially important against Green Bay: The less time its offense spends on the field and the fewer scoring opportunities it has, the greater Los Angeles' chances of advancing to the NFC Championship.

"It's a great matchup," McVay said during a video conference Sunday night. "Our defense has done a great job, but I have tremendous respect for these coaches, these players and what they've done for the Packers. This is what you love. These are the type of matchups and opportunities that as a competitor, you can't wait for. We have to take it a day at a time and have a great week of prep."

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