Rams Avenge Super Bowl Loss, Beat Patriots 24-3

On+the+first+play+of+the+third+quarter%2C+Rams+defensive+lineman+Michael+Brockers+%2890%29+sacked+Cam+Newton+%281%29+for+a+10+yard+loss.+Brockers+led+the+team+with+a+pair+of+sacks%2C+helping+Los+Angeles+to+a+dominant+24-3+victory+over+New+England.

Photo courtesy of Brevin Townsell, via TheRams.com

On the first play of the third quarter, Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers (90) sacked Cam Newton (1) for a 10 yard loss. Brockers led the team with a pair of sacks, helping Los Angeles to a dominant 24-3 victory over New England.

Leading up to the game, sports outlets tapped this matchup as a rematch of Super Bowl 53. Unlike that fateful night two seasons ago, it was the Rams’ defense who stymied the Patriots offense 24-3. Here’s what we learned from last night’s Thursday Night Football matchup at SoFi Stadium:

Super Bowl 53 “Rematch”

As mentioned above, folks everywhere billed this as a rematch of Super Bowl 53. But these two teams couldn’t have been anymore different since that game. Gone is Tom Brady, who spent 20 seasons directing the Patriots offense. For the Rams, they cut running back Todd Gurley earlier in the year (he’s now with Atlanta). This Patriots team is a shell of its former self, with many defensive starters having opted out of the season because of COVID-19 concerns. You could see the cracks during last year’s 11-5 season, which culminated in an early postseason exit in the Wildcard round. It’s hard  to play quarterback with receivers from the Salvation Army. Speaking of which…

Ace Boogie Smothered by Rams Defense

Cam Newton really deserves better. The Rams defense harassed Ace Boogie all afternoon. He completed nine of his 16 passes for 119 yards and an interception. His longest pass went for 31 yards, nearly as many yards as their leading receiver had all night (49 for N’Keal Harry). He also absorbed three third quarter sacks thanks to an overmatched offensive line. The interception came courtesy of linebacker Kenny Young, who ran it in for a touchdown and put the Rams up 17-0, sealing New England’s fate. Newton’s fate beyond this season is murky; it’s doubtful New England will bring him back, since they seem to like second year man Jarrett Stidham. With a full strength Patriots team, who knows how this game/season would’ve gone. What we do know is that they have seven losses for the first time since 2002, the only season a Tom Brady-led Patriots team didn’t make the playoffs. At least Myles Bryant’s interception made for a great highlight.

Rams Defense Continues to Dominate

What can you say about this Rams defense that hasn’t been said already? Coming into this one, Los Angeles’ defense ranked in the top five against the run (third), the passing game(first), and scoring (fifth). They sacked Newton and Stidham six times, and made sure that their most productive drive (12 plays, eight minutes) produced zero points. On 4th&goal from the L.A. two yard line, Newton tried to pitch the ball to Damien Harris, but was swallowed up by the Rams’ Justin Hollins. Turnover on downs. For the second straight week, the Rams defense scored a pick-six. This is by far the best defense in the Sean McVay area (way better than the unit from their 2018 Super Bowl season). As mentioned by FOX’s Troy Aikman, it would be very disappointing for the Rams to field this unit and not make a deep postseason run. Anything short of the Championship game would be a letdown. 

Ground Game Gashes Patriots

Like that 2018 season, the Rams’ success this year is predicated on a strong run game (eighth in the league). While they don’t air it out like they used to, their sixth ranked passing attack still gets the job done (137 yards against New England). But going back to that ground game: Cam Akers totally gashed the Patriots’ 18th ranked rushing defense. Akers finished with 171 yards on the ground on 29 attempts. He and backfield mate Darrell Henderson each have over 500 yards this season, but Akers gives the Rams that special oomph on the ground. 

Next Sunday, the football gods gifted the Rams a matchup with the winless New York Jets. But the Jets play Seattle this coming Sunday, so maybe they’ll turn a corner and earn their first win. See what I did there? That was a joke (though a New York win would help Los Angeles claim the NFC West). No matter. They’ll remain at SoFi Stadium to take on the winless New York team at 1:05 p.m. PST.

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