McVay’s Rams secure postseason berth yet again

  • Covered Rams for two years for Los Angeles Times
  • Previously covered the Falcons
  • Has covered the NBA and college football and basketball

The Los Angeles Rams defense put together a stout performance to help quarterback Matthew Stafford overcome a three-interception day and extend the Rams’ win streak to four games.

Inside a lively U.S. Bank Stadium, the Rams defeated the Minnesota Vikings 30-23 to clinch a playoff berth for the fourth time in Sean McVay’s five seasons as coach.

With the win Sunday, the Rams improve to 11-4 and into first place in the NFC West over the 10-5 Arizona Cardinals with two games remaining in the regular season.

The Rams travel next Sunday to Baltimore to face the Ravens and close out the schedule at home against the division-rival San Francisco 49ers, who have defeated the Rams in their past five meetings.

After a difficult month of November that saw the Rams trend in the wrong direction on a three-game losing streak, they rebounded to sweep the month of December despite a trying set of circumstances.

Ahead of a Week 14 Monday Night Football showdown against the then-division leading Cardinals, the Rams began moving players, including in the hours ahead of kickoff, onto the reserve/COVID-19 list.

At one point over the past two weeks, the Rams had 29 players unavailable, which caused the NFL to reschedule a Week 15 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks from last Sunday to Tuesday, which also resulted in a quick turnaround to face the Vikings (7-8).

In the win over the Vikings, Stafford completed 21 of 37 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown with 3 interceptions. It was Stafford’s fourth multi-turnover game this season, three previous all resulting in losses, and it was his first game with three interceptions since Week 1 of the 2018 season against the New York Jets.

Running back Sony Michel produced his second 100-rushing yard performance of the season as he ran for 131 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries and receiver Cooper Kupp continued his NFL Offensive Player of the Year worthy season with his 11th straight game producing more than 90 receiving yards. Kupp caught 10 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.

The defense held the Vikings to 2 for 12 on third down, as quarterback Kirk Cousins went 27 for 38 with a touchdown and interception.

On special teams, returner Brandon Powell provided a needed spark in the second half after Stafford threw interceptions on back-to-back series. Powell returned a 40-yard punt 61 yards for a touchdown, marking only the second punt return for a touchdown in the NFL this season and the first for the Rams since 2015.

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