While defense is known to win championships, the best defensive line in the NFL had no answer for the league’s best offense as the Green Bay Packers defeated the Los Angeles Rams 32-18.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff completed 21 passes for 174 yards, running back Cam Akers made 18 carries for 90 yards. Wide receiver Josh Reynolds made three catches for 65 yards and linebacker Troy Reeder made 13 tackles.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made 23 slings for 296 yards, making two touchdowns. Rusher Aaron Jones had 99 rushing yards from 14 carries, wideout Allen Lazard made four receptions for 96 yards, and linebacker Krys Barnes made 10 stops.
Aaron Donald was reduced to a season low of snaps and was despondent at the result of the game. Donald sustained a rib injury during the Rams’ Wild Card game against the Seattle Seahawks.
“This is tough, you feel for him. He’s a guy that carries us all year,” said Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth. “I think it’s tough to see a guy when they’re injured in a way that way, but they’re just trying to gut it out.”
The Green Bay defense swiftly escorted the Rams of the field in their first possession and the Packers made a series of first down rushes and throws. Reeder’s efforts forced the Packers to commit a field goal, putting Green Bay on the score board first.
Less than a month after undergoing right thumb surgery, Goff quickly picked up 47 passing yards after two consecutive throws. The Packers refused a Rams a touchdown and they tied the score with a successful field goal attempt.
Green Bay running backs found ways to gain yards and Rodgers targeted tight end Robert Tonyan. Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald got a penalty, giving Green Bay 15 extra yards. These things help Rodgers to send a touchdown pass to wideout Davante Adams.
The Packers next possession also resulted in a touchdown, putting them ahead 16-3.
With the second quarter clock winding down, Akers rushed into Packers territory. Goff targeted Reynolds and wideout Robert Woods to ultimately send a four-yard pass to wide receiver Van Jefferson in the endzone. Los Angeles was then within six points of the Packers.
Rams head coach Sean McVay called Akers a “big time player.”
“I think the more that you can have the ball in Cam Akers hands, you’re in a good position,” he said. “He got more and more confidence as the season went.”
With 29 seconds left in the first half and Donald pressuring him, Rodgers sent two deep passes, putting the Green Bay offense at the Rams’ 21-yard line. The Rams defense forced Green Bay to kick a field goal. Los Angeles went into halftime trailing Green Bay 10-25.
Goff had 91 passing yards compared to Rodgers 169 at this point.
“He’s just a great, it’s just so easy to see,” Rams safety John Johnson III said about Rodgers. “Whatever he saw, he’d do the opposite of what we where showing and it ended up working.”
Green Bay returned to the field with energy. Jones sent the Packers to the Rams’ redzone with a 60-yard run. With the help of the other Green Bay running backs, Jones scored a touchdown from one yard out.
Los Angeles was denied a first down by the Packers defense, the Rams returned the favor by holding them in their own territory on the Packers next possession.
Goff quickened the pace of snaps to advance, allowing Akers to score on a seven-yard rush. Their two-point conversion succeeded, closing the Rams deficit to seven points.
While the Rams defense pressured Rodgers and the Green Bay offense off the field, the Rams offense did not carry their momentum. After getting three first downs, Goff was sacked for a loss of six yards and had to punt the ball away.
Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard took a 58-yard pass from Rodgers to seal the Rams’ fate. Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers noted how the defensive players blamed themselves for mistakes.
“I think that’s what I was the most proud about this defense in this game was there was a lot of things that didn’t go our way, but there wasn’t one time where we got to pointing fingers,” he said. “This defense definitely has a lot of ownership.”