Time Machine, Please. Let’s Relive The Rams 2022 NFC Title Game Win

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trevon howard

What made the Los Angeles Rams different from everyone else in the 2021 season was their ability to make big plays down the stretch.

More games in the NFL are lost than won if. I swear the secret greatness of the New England Patriots over the years isn’t how they went out and won so many games as much as they just didn’t beat themselves and waited for the other team to make a mistake or fold under pressure.

This week I re-watched the 2022 NFC Championship Game between the Rams and Niners. I admit I got a little teary at the end – Matthew Stafford steals the football on the last snap and won’t give it up and you just can’t help but feel happy for him.

The Rams are down 17-7 going into the fourth quarter, but rally, and then rally again.

But the Niners lose the game too. Their incompetence in the final seven minutes is truly staggering.

Here’s what stood out on my 2022 NFC Championship Game rewatch.

Man, The Rams Were Good

Odell Beckham Jr. was as good as it gets for Los Angeles and it’s easy to see why so many teams were after him this season. Beckham Jr. ended up sitting out the whole year.

Beckham Jr. had nine catches for 113 yards and with him in the line-up, the Niners just couldn’t sit back and roll all their coverage over to Cooper Kupp, which freed him up to catch two touchdown passes.

The Rams ran the ball (really!) well early. Sony Michel – who the Rams let go – had a big game. Cam Akers looked sharp, in fact the Rams really should have had a big lead early, but we will get to that later.

Who Were Those Guys?

One of the other things that stands out about the game is how hard hitting it is. I swear Championship Games are played at a higher level than even the Super Bowl.

Cam Akers gets hurt, briefly, K’Waun Williams gets destroyed for the Niners, Tyler Higbee is out of the game quickly replaced by Kendall Blanton for the Rams at tight end.

Blanton is the Rams Unsung Hero of the game. He makes a huge catch on third and one on the drive that sets up the winning field goal. He finished with five catches for 57 yards, and he was the third-string tight end. Is he still a Ram? No. We wrote about him yesterday. He’s on the Chiefs practice squad.

Eric Weddle came out of retirement for the post-season for the Rams and finished with nine tackles. The other guy who really stood out was A’Shawn Robinson for the Rams on the defensive line. He did not play at the same level in 2022, and then he got hurt and missed the end of the season.

The Niners Failure

The FOX broadcast opened with Troy Aikman talking about how the Niner players and coaches all believed that when it was crunch time, Jimmy Garoppolo would come through, like “he has so many times before.”

Uh-huh.

They then played up the fact that Garoppolo was 6-0 against the Rams as a starter. Which was completely fair. In Week 18 of the regular season, he drove the Niners down for a TD to save their season against the Rams.

But in the final seven minutes, Garoppolo and the Niners are horrible. Let’s review.

The Niners get the ball back with 6:49 with the score tied at 17. Here’s the drive:

Incomplete pass. Garoppolo is rushed.

Delay of Game

Incomplete pass. Pass is almost intercepted by Jalen Ramsey.

Incomplete pass. It’s a bad snap on the shotgun and Garoppolo has no chance.

The Niners Failure, Part 2

Matt Gay drills a 30-yard field goal with 1:49 left giving the Rams a 20-17 lead, but hey, remember, Garoppolo always comes through in the clutch. The Niners get the ball back at their own 25.

Incomplete pass. Von Miller blows past the right tackle and puts heat on Garoppolo.

Pass to Jauan Jennings for a three-yard loss. This play is doomed from the start as the Niners can’t get the snap off in time.

Interception. It’s crazy again, the snap is late, half of the Niners almost look like they’re not ready (how can you not be ready?) Miller comes through with a rush, Aaron Donald is there and Garoppolo must sidearm a throw in the flat to Jamycal Hasty that has no chance. Hasty tips it and Travin Howard intercepts it. Ball game.

The Drops

There are three crucial drops of passes that could have changed the game around.

Two are by the Rams at the end of the first half with the game tied at 7. Stafford hits Kupp across the middle and he has all day to run, but he can’t catch it. It’s wild, it’s the type of catch he makes in his sleep.

Two plays later, Stafford has Ben Skowronek open in the end zone and the ball hits Skowronek on the right arm/hand. I mean, you couldn’t throw it better, but Skowronek can’t catch it. The Rams then miss a field goal and the Niners make one just before half to lead 10-7.

The biggest drop of the game though is by Niners defensive back Jaquiski Tartt. Its 17-14 in the fourth, Stafford throws a duck deep over the middle. Tartt is the only one close to it and it hits him in the chest. He drops it. You hate to say it now, but that drop might have been the game-changing play. I admit I totally forgot about this play until I saw it again.

Tartt is no longer in the NFL. That’s sad.

All Rams In First Half

The Rams could have been up 21-7 at halftime. They dominated. Stafford had a pass tipped and picked off at the goal line (it could have been pass interference on Williams, but listen, in the Championship Games, they let them play). Kupp could have had a TD on his pass. About the only thing the Niners had in the first half was a quick screen that Deebo Samuel took to the house. The Rams dominated the first half in time of possession and yards, yet somehow trailed 10-7.