While there have been many bright spots to the Rams season thus far, Los Angeles' 51-17 victory over the Giants was arguably the team's best performance yet. In Week 9, L.A. turned in one of its most complete games of 2017, excelling in all three phases to stay undefeated away from the Coliseum.
"A lot of stuff was working — the run, the pass, everything," quarterback Jared Goff said. "That was great, our first time [putting together] a complete performance on all three phases."
On Sunday, the Rams wasted no time attacking New York on all fronts.
In just the first half, the Rams recorded three takeaways — two forced fumbles and one interception. And while turnovers alone are a point of pride, the offense's ability to capitalize on each play made the takeaways all the more impressive.
"It goes back to our football philosophy," head coach Sean McVay said Monday. "The No. 1 thing that we talk about is that it's always about the ball. And by going plus-three in the turnover margin yesterday, that was a big indicator of giving yourself a chance to win the football game."
On the Giants' first possession, defensive tackle Aaron Donald made an inside move, pushing past right guard D.J. Fluker to get to quarterback Eli Manning. The three-time Pro Bowler ripped the ball from Manning on a six-yard sack, and outside linebacker Connor Barwin recovered the fumble.
The turnover set up Goff's eight-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Higbee for the team's first scoring drive of the contest.
"Huge," Goff said of the takeaways. "We had great field position all day and just [gained] momentum. Being able to feel that excitement when they make the play — we expect to make a play after them."
Early in the second quarter, the offense continued to capitalize on its opportunities, this time off of middle linebacker Alec Ogletree's forced fumble.
On 1st-and-10 from the L.A. 48, Manning handed off to running back Wayne Gallman. The Clemson product attempted to run up the middle before he was met by Ogletree who stripped the ball out, allowing Donald to pounce on the fumble.
"I was able to get my hand in there and punch it out and then we were able to get a recovery," Ogletree said. "It was definitely one of the big plays of the game and it's credit to everybody continuing to just play. You try to do that and get the offense back the ball."
Five plays later, Goff hit wide receiver Robert Woods who converted a 3rd-and-33 into a 52-yard touchdown, extending the Rams' lead to 17-7.
"It's big because it definitely builds momentum and keeps the momentum going," Ogletree said. "Turnovers are a big correlation in games that we won, so we felt like if we lead in turnover ratios, we give ourselves a great chance to win the game."
And as the saying goes, "good things come in threes." L.A. recorded its third takeaway of the first half with an
interception by cornerback Trumaine Johnson. On 3rd-and-10 from the Giants' 14-yard line, Manning forced a throw into tight coverage. But Johnson stepped in front of wide receiver Roger Lewis Jr. to pick off the pass, giving the Rams back the ball at the New York 30.
"Just reading the concept, really it was just reading the concept and the vision on the quarterback," Johnson said of the pick. "I felt the receiver come behind me and with the vision on the quarterback I was able to make a play."
The ensuing drive culminated in a 46-yard field goal by kicker Greg Zuerlein.
Overall, Los Angeles' offense and defense worked in tandem as each unit built off the other to score 17 points off of three defensive turnovers. McVay and his players said the team preaches takeaways throughout the preparation week, believing that "attacking the ball and applying pressure" are primary keys to victory.
"I think that's one of the philosophy's that our team wants to embody," McVay said. "I think it was a credit to those guys being able to get that done against a tough opponent on the road. And anytime that you win the turnover battle 3-0, you're going to give yourself a chance to have a complete game and that's what we feel like we came away with today."
"Now we're at plus-three for the season," he added on Monday. "And if we can continue taking care of the football offensively [and] getting it back defensively, those are the things that we talk about and emphasize moving forward."