In a game that sure looked winnable on paper against a banged-up Packers team, the Rams missed an opportunity to prove they’re legitimate contenders in the NFC. They lost 36-28 at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon, heading home with a 7-4 record and a two-game deficit to the Cardinals in the NFC West.
It’s tough to pin the blame exclusively on one player because there were so many poor performances on both sides of the ball, particularly on offense. But the special teams unit was especially bad and Sean McVay isn’t off the hook for his play-calling, either.
Here are our studs and duds from Sunday’s loss to the Packers, the Rams’ third straight defeat since Week 9.
Gaines has been playing some outstanding football as of late since replacing Sebastian Joseph-Day, particularly as a pass rusher. He was constantly around the ball, making seven tackles, and clogged up running lanes for Green Bay. He dominated from the nose tackle position. He had one sack after Rodgers tried to scramble and managed to draw two holding penalties, as well, absolutely shining in the middle of the defensive line against the Packers. It’s tough to replace Joseph-Day, but Gaines is doing everything he can to fill that void.
Fuller racked up more takeaways as a rookie in 2020 than he has this season, but he’s been really steady all year and continues to get better as the season progresses. He made seven tackles and broke up two passes, holding up well in the deep part of the field. Fuller made up ground on a deep shot from Rodgers, too, simultaneously breaking up a pass with Dont’e Deayon way downfield.
Reeder was a complete liability in coverage and Aaron Rodgers knew it. He was targeted often by the Packers and more often than not, it resulted in a positive play for Green Bay. He gave up three catches on the Packers’ touchdown drive to open the second half, including A.J. Dillon’s 5-yard reception for six points. He missed too many tackles, as well, and was clearly the weak link on defense all afternoon. He has to be better, otherwise offenses will continue to pick on him week after week.
Finally, the special teams unit made a play when Robert Rochell recovered a muffed punt by Randall Cobb. But the negatives far outweighed that slight positive on special teams. J.J. Koski fumbled a punt, Buddy Howell lined up offsides, Sony Michel bobbled a kickoff and Cooper Kupp let a punt go by him, which was downed at the 1-yard line. Johnny Hekker didn’t have any great punts and even shanked one 33 yards, which left Matt Gay as the only impactful player on special teams – again.
You might look at his stat line and see that he threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns, but he didn’t play well – at all. He threw a pick-six in the second half and the Packers dropped two other sure interceptions. He missed a wide-open Tyler Higbee on a corner route, threw behind Odell Beckham Jr. several times and also overthrew his receivers a couple of times along the sideline. It was another terrible performance from the Rams quarterback, who has now thrown five interceptions (three pick-sixes) and five touchdown passes in his last three games.
Whitworth had been playing some of his best football before Sunday’s game, but he had some trouble with Rashan Gary and the Packers’ other edge rushers. He allowed a strip-sack to Gary in the first quarter and was called for holding twice in the game, though both of them were declined. He didn’t have a particularly good game against Green Bay, though he also wasn’t the team’s biggest problem, either.
Rapp has struggled most of the season but he really didn’t have a great performance against the Packers. On Randall Cobb’s 54-yard reception, Rapp badly overplayed it and took a terrible angle to allow the long gain. He made just two tackles on the afternoon and was a non-factor in coverage, also allowing a touchdown catch to Cobb on a route out of the backfield. It might really be time for the Rams to consider playing Terrell Burgess over Rapp – or even Nick Scott, for that matter.