NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 16 Game Recap: Los Angeles Rams 30, Minnesota Vikings 23

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Sony Michel (25) runs the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams overcame a disastrous performance from quarterback Matthew Stafford to beat the Minnesota Vikings, 30-23, on the road in Week 16.

With the help of PFF’s unique play-by-play grading system and other advanced metrics — that you can now get access to for 50% off — here’s everything you need to know from the Rams’ win.

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Los Angeles Rams

Quarterback

Matthew Stafford‘s disappointing box score featured three interceptions, but it was even worse than that by PFF's metrics. Stafford produced five turnover-worthy plays on first review of the game. He failed to record a big-time throw and made multiple mistakes, whether he was free from pressure or under duress. Any hopes of him winning the MVP were put to rest.

Matthew Stafford Clean vs. Pressured Performance

Clean Pressure
19/29 Att/Comp 2/8
186 Passing Yards 11
1:1 TD:INT 0:2
0:2 BTT:TWP 0:3

*BTT = Big-time throw; TWP = Turnover-worthy play

Running Back

Darrell Henderson did not get a lot of run in the contest before exiting with a knee injury. He received only two carries, which he took for seven and 17 yards, respectively.

Sony Michel ripped off four runs over 10 yards downfield across 26 carries while breaking two tackles and averaging 2.5 yards after contact per attempt.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Cooper Kupp was the go-to target, as expected. He was responsible for over 50% of the teams’ receiving yards and generated 2.87 yards per route run. The latter was more than double that of the next best Rams receiver (Tyler Higbee, 1.28).

Odell Beckham Jr. received eight targets and caught all four that were catchable. Van Jefferson, meanwhile, saw five targets over 10 yards downfield, but not a single one was catchable.

Offensive Line

The only offensive lineman who allowed multiple pressures was center Coleman Shelton. He entered the game in the middle of the second quarter after starter Brian Allen exited with an injury. Los Angeles' offensive line as a whole performed admirably in the run game, as evidenced by the backfield’s 2.2 yards before contact per attempt average for the game.

Defensive Line

Aaron Donald was once again the star of the show. As a pass-rusher, he generated eight total pressures and won 13 total reps. Against the run, Donald produced three tackles for loss or no gain. He has generated a PFF grade above 70.0 in every single game this season, and that’s not changing this week.

Linebackers

Troy Reeder, Travin Howard and Ernest Jones all performed well in coverage. The group combined for one interception, two forced incompletions and five passing stops.

Secondary

Darious Williams had a performance to forget. He allowed 81 yards in coverage, a touchdown and a couple of first downs, paving the way for a poor coverage grade. Jalen Ramsey did give up a couple of first downs, but he made up for it with a forced incompletion and two passing stops.

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Minnesota Vikings

Quarterback

Despite carrying a heavy load with a lot of pure dropback passing concepts, Kirk Cousins played decently. He threw the ball well to the intermediate level of the field, completed seven of 10 passes between 10 to 19 yards downfield for 137 yards and a score. Cousins did produce a couple of turnover-worthy plays compared to one big-time throw en route to a 45.5% successful pass rate — just one percentage point above the Rams' mark. Still, he earned a passing grade double that of Stafford on first review.

Running Back

With just over half a yard before contact per attempt, Minnesota's run game struggled. Running backs Alexander Mattison and Kene Nwangwu combined for under 50 yards on 18 carries and had only four runs go for over four yards.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

A banged-up Adam Thielen didn’t last too long in this contest before exiting. Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn carried most of the workload, but it was the 2020 first-rounder who had the most success. Jefferson generated 2.70 yards per route run and racked up four receptions of 15-plus yards while catching four of five contested targets.

Offensive Line

Minnesota’s offensive line saw a significantly higher rate of true pass sets than what's typical (32 of 44 dropbacks), and it had negative ramifications on the pass protection. The Vikings allowed 14 pressures and lost 21 total reps across those 32 true dropbacks. All three interior starters ended with poor pass-blocking grades on first review.

A positive performer was rookie Christian Darrisaw, who didn’t allow a pressure on first review.

Defensive Line

The Vikings' defensive line made little impact in the game. Only one player — Michael Pierce — generated a PFF grade in the green on first review. The entire group combined for two tackles for loss against the run and seven pressures.

Linebackers

Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr put together opposite performances, according to PFF’s first run of the game. Kendricks is set to earn a poor PFF grade, while Barr is sitting in the green. Kendricks allowed three first downs in coverage and made far more negatively graded plays against the run compared to positively graded ones.

Secondary

The Vikings' secondary was responsible for six first downs or touchdowns allowed in coverage, and four of those were the fault of slot corner Mackensie Alexander. He allowed catches on all seven of his targets for 96 yards. He did record a couple of passing stops, but that wasn’t enough to bring his coverage grade for the game out of the red.

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