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Rams' run game remains productive despite loss to Steelers

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A focal point in their second-half surge to defeat the Cardinals in Week 6, all eyes were on the Rams' run game in Week 7, especially with their two biggest contributors to the rotation – Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers – on Injured Reserve.

Thanks to two experienced faces in Darrell Henderson Jr. and Royce Freeman, they were able to keep that production going despite the 24-17 loss to the Steelers on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

"I thought they did a great job," Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "I thought our guys up front did a really nice job controlling the line of scrimmage, our guys on the outside competed really well. Their safeties and corners and nickels were down in the box quite a bit, and our guys were covering them up in the run game. I thought all the guys we handed the ball to today did a really nice job."

Henderson found the endzone for his first touchdown since Week 10 of last season, posting 18 carries for 61 yards in addition to the score, while Freeman added 12 carries for a team-high 61 yards. The duo represented the bulk of Los Angeles' 135 rushing yards on 31 carries as a team, which averaged out to 4.4 yards per carry.

That near-even split in rushing attempts is what Henderson said he expected coming into Sunday's game.

"I didn't know I was going to start the game, but when we got here today, 50-50, every series we was going to be rotating," Henderson said. "I was just prepared and ready for my ops."

To get ready during the week, Henderson got as much work in as possible during practice, even going as far as getting additional snaps with the scout team. He said postgame that he felt fine physically.

"I think last week was a toll, but I started to turn over pretty quick," Henderson said.

As Freeman's line indicates, they were also able to consistently turn to him when they weren't handing the ball to Henderson.

Although the Rams' second offensive series didn't come away with points due to a missed field goal, it was Freeman's first three carries of 9, 4 and 11 yards that helped sustain the drive and keep it on schedule.

Freeman was quick to credit Los Angeles' offensive line, and also indicated he left some yards on the field even after averaging a team-high 5.5 yards per carry.

"Up front, those guys, they handle their own," Freeman said. "Running behind those guys, they make our lives easy. For me personally, I feel I could do better for them, get some more yards out of those runs.

Head coach Sean McVay overall was pleased with how the Rams ran the ball on Sunday, but also areas of improvement.

"I thought we ran the ball," McVay said. "I thought we were able to get some really good removal. I thought that started from the very jump. They did some things that bottled us up a little bit (that) we got to figure out, and that starts with me. Those would be the things that we have to look at and be honest with ourselves about where we can be better."

The Los Angeles Rams take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at SoFi Stadium in Week 7 of the 2023 season. Take a look at photos from the matchup!

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