For a split second, Rams linebacker Troy Reeder had dropped back into coverage.
But with Los Angeles' secondary blanketing Washington's receivers, defensive linemen Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers commanding the attention of Washington's tackles and guards, and defensive linemen Greg Gaines taking away the center, a sizable lane opened up for Reeder to rush the passer and bring down Washington quarterback Alex Smith for his second sack of the game.
Reeder would finish with three, putting together a career performance in L.A.'s 30-10 win over the Washington Football Team on Sunday.
"I think pretty much all three of them were, you could give a lot of credit to our actual defensive lineman and pass rushers who were just getting after the quarterback all day and kind of flushing them out," Reeder said during his postgame video conference. "And then, as the next guy in there, capitalized on it, but everybody was getting after him today. So really good defensive game, and overall teamwork."
Whether it was due to his own efforts or those around him, Reeder deserves credit for the performance and stepping in seamlessly for an injured Micah Kiser.
McVay had told reporters prior to the Rams' Thursday practice that Reeder would be the next man up should Kiser not be able to play against Washington. Following Friday's practice, McVay said Kiser would be a gametime decision.
Regardless of timing, Reeder said he was comfortable stepping into a starting role because of the experience he gained as a rookie last year, particularly the amount of playing time over the final 12 games.
"I prepare every week like I'm going to be in the game, and support the guys who are and help them prepare," Reeder said.
The University of Delaware product finished with a team-high 10 combined tackles; his eight solo stops tied his career-high set against Seattle in Week 5 last year. His three sacks were second to Donald's four. Linebacker Jachai Polite's first career sack pushed the total to eight for the unit collectively. Reeder also contributed three quarterback hits and two tackles for loss, while the Rams as a team produced eight and nine respectively.
His L.A. teammates were just as confident as he was that he would fill in capably.
"Troy's amazing," Brockers said. "When Micah got hurt, he was kind of reluctant to get out, but I told him, 'I mean, we got Troy, we got a great backup behind you, you have your brother behind you, let's trust that he's going to get the job done.' The fact that he went out there and balled today, had a couple sacks and a lot of tackles, it just shows our next-man-up philosophy is true."
Rams head coach Sean McVay was also pleased with Reeder's performance.
"He was outstanding and did a great job stepping in and running the show," McVay said.