Rams-Jaguars recap: winners and losers in resounding LA victory
After losing their last three games, the Los Angeles Rams beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 37-7 to move to a record 8-4 in the 2021 season. LA halted its midseason slide and walked away with a well-deserved victory over a struggling Jags team – but it remains to be seen whether the Rams really got the ship right.
There were a number of individual rebound performances that led Los Angeles to victory on Sunday afternoon.
Sony Michel, RB
It’s no secret that the Rams’ racing game has struggled in recent weeks. LA was notably pissed off in several short-distance situations last week against the Green Bay Packers, and running back Darrell Henderson was unable to create much distance after contact.
But LA’s performance on the field against Jacksonville was a revelation, and Sony Michel gave the team a much needed boost in this facet of the offense. Michel not only took the yards off the offensive line, but he also kept his legs moving to produce on first contact.
The veteran runner had 121 yards on 24 carries and added a touchdown. Michel also had 8 receiving yards on 3 catches.
After Todd Gurley’s incredible run for the Rams, the only ground performance more complete than Sony Michel’s 24-121-1 line today was Cam Akers’ 29-171-0 last year against NE.
I love the identity of all the players on the bridge established today. LA has just become a more complex preparation for ARI.
– JB Long (@JB_Long) December 6, 2021
It will be worth watching the progress of the running offense and how Michel and Henderson share the load as the rest of the season unfolds.
Aaron Donald, DT
Star defensive tackle Aaron Donald set the tone at SoFi Stadium on Sunday when he forced a James Robinson fumble on the Jaguars’ first offensive possession. Donald threw Robinson and simultaneously snatched the ball for an incredibly impressive game.
Donald also added a sack towards the end of the game in what could be his best overall performance yet in 2021.
Greg Gaines, DT
Aside from Donald, the Rams’ second best defensive lineman on Sunday afternoon appeared to be Greg Gaines. Gaines has fulfilled his role admirably since Sebastian Joseph-Day was injured, and the third-year player has asserted himself in both the running and passing game against Jacksonville.
It was cool to see the development of Greg Gaines. Became more than a solid contributor for Rams DL in its 3rd year
– Omar Ruiz (@OmarDRuiz) December 5, 2021
Brandon Powell, KR
Brandon Powell was activated from the Rams practice squad for the Week 13 contest, and he made a good first impression taking the opening kickoff 65 yards to give Matthew Stafford and the offensive a great starting position on the pitch. This is the Rams’ longest comeback in the 2021 season to date. LA didn’t have a chance to return a punt, but Powell had several fair catches.
After injuries created a turnstile in the kick and punt return roles, Los Angeles may have found a reliable comeback and special teams ace in Powell.
Cooper Kupp, WR
As Michel dominated on the ground, Cooper Kupp was the catalyst for the passing offense – and the star receiver racked up 8 receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown. While Kupp started off slowly, once he started up the offense followed. Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham, Jr. contributed late-game touchdowns, but Kupp clearly remains the number one option for LA’s air attack.
Kupp has also surpassed 100 receptions this season, marking only the fourth time a Rams wide receiver has crossed that threshold. The veteran wide receiver is in great company as it’s good news every time your name is mentioned among Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. If Kupp scored 20 more receptions in the next 5 games, he would break the franchise record for most catches in a single season.
This is Cooper Kupp’s 100th catch this season, becoming the third Rams wide receiver to achieve the feat in franchise history:
Isaac Bruce – 119 (1995)
Torry Holt – 117 (2003)
Torry Holt – 102 (2005)
Kupp – 100 (2021)
– Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) December 5, 2021
Matt Gay, K
While the special teams unit in general struggled throughout the 2021 season, kicker Matt Gay has been a stable and reliable presence for Los Angeles. Gay finished Week 13 with a 3-for-3 field goal victory (44-yard long) which takes him to 20-21 on the season (54-yard long). Gay also converted his 4 extra point attempts against Jacksonville.
Robert Rochell, CB
Even though the Rams had an insurmountable lead (37-3) at the time, Robert Rochell made a high effort game to knock down a Johnny Hekker punt at the 1-yard line. Sean McVay then ran to the sidelines to congratulate the rookie.
Darious Williams, CB
The Rams desperately need another key contributor to emerge in high school, and cornerback Darious Williams has fallen short of the expectations he set himself a season ago.
Williams pulled off several impressive tackles in the open field, but he was also called up for holding the third down twice, which gave Trevor Lawrence and the Jags offense another set of lows. With Williams in a contract year, it becomes increasingly unlikely that LA will be willing to invest in a major new contract for the corner.
Troy Reeder, ILB
Rookie Ernest Jones started the game and played the majority of defensive snaps, which could be a sign that linebacker Troy Reeder is falling out of favor. Reeder struggled mightily last week at Green Bay, and Aaron Rodgers looked in his direction at several key points – and it was a pretty successful approach.
Even though Reeder’s role in defense is understated, he’s still a big contributor on special teams – and he believes he’s a key player for the Rams.
Ben Skowronek, WR
Rookie wide receiver Ben Skowronek caught an impressive 35-yard pass from Stafford, but had two mental errors that earned him a spot on the “losers” list:
1 – At the start of the match, when the passing game was difficult, Stafford placed a ball where only Skowronek could get it. Sure, it was a tough catch, but that pass would have converted a third goal in the red zone and essentially made the difference between a field goal attempt and a touchdown.
2 – Skowronek also interfered with a good grip on a Jaguars punt return that gave the Jacksonville offense a solid starting position on the field. This was just another example of the struggles on special teams.
Skowronek is just a rookie and will see ups and downs throughout the season, but he’s a bigger body that offers different skills than other Rams wide receivers. Sometimes the team will need his contribution, but there will also be growing pains.
David Long, Jr.
David Long, Jr. was a healthy, inactive game day and is now firmly behind Donte ‘Deayon and rookie Robert Rochell on the depth board. The team expected Long to be a starter for the season, but he’s been one of the biggest individual disappointments so far.
The Rams travel in Week 14 to face the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football in a highly anticipated divisional rematch.