Perhaps one day, four months or a decade from now, the Rams will look back at Sunday’s victory over the New York Giants and remember.
Not necessarily any single play from their 38-11 rout of the hapless Giants at MetLife Stadium, but on an afternoon that the Giants celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their 2011 Super Bowl championship team the Rams overcame early struggles on offense and remained on track for a possible run to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.
Matthew Stafford passed for four touchdowns, running back Darrell Henderson and receiver Cooper Kupp each scored two touchdowns and the defense forced four turnovers in a victory that improved the Rams record to 5-1.
Not that coach Sean McVay envisioned confetti falling just yet. Not after the Rams offense once again started slow.
“It’s not good enough,” he said. “Not pleased with it.”
Or, as Kupp summarized: “It is the result we wanted, but as an offense it’s not up to our standard.”
The game was the first in a three-game stretch that pits the Rams against struggling teams. The Giants, for example, fell to 1-5.
Next up: The 0-6 Detroit Lions, and former quarterback Jared Goff’s return to SoFi Stadium.
McVay and general manager Les Snead traded Goff, two first-round draft picks and a third-round pick to the Lions for Stafford because McVay had grown frustrated with Goff, and they believed Stafford offered superior arm talent, savvy and experience.
Stafford did not win a playoff game in 12 seasons, but McVay and Snead are convinced he is the missing piece to help the Rams win a Super Bowl that will be played in their home stadium.
There are 11 games left in the regular season. So far, it looks like a wise decision.
Stafford has passed for 16 touchdowns, with four interceptions.
On Sunday, he tossed two touchdown passes to Kupp, one to Henderson and another to receiver Robert Woods. He completed 22 of 28 passes for 251 yards, with an interception.
“There’s room for improvement,” Stafford said of the offense, “but I’m proud of the way we just stuck to it.”
The Rams defense made it relatively easy for Stafford — and softened McVay’s grimace.
Safety Taylor Rapp intercepted two passes . Rookie cornerback Robert Rochell intercepted another. Outside linebacker Obo Okoronkwo sacked Giants quarterback Daniel Jones and forced a fumble.
Leonard Floyd, Terrell Lewis and Aaron Donald also sacked Jones, who was playing a week removed from suffering a concussion.
The defensive front’s pressure on Jones took some of the heat off the Rams’ reshuffled secondary.
Without injured cornerback Darious Williams, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris deployed Rochell, Dont’e Deayon, David Long and Terrell Burgess to fill the void.
“A lot of guys had expanded roles,” Rapp said. “We knew that coming into the game this week and everyone stepped up.”
The victory was the second in a row for a team that lost to the unbeaten Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 3 and then rebounded by defeating the Seattle Seahawks four days later in Seattle.
McVay had said that the Rams benefited from a “mini-bye” last Sunday, but the offense was flat in the first quarter against the Giants, and the Rams also performed out of character in several areas.
A team that went into the game as the least-penalized in the NFL was flagged seven times for 50 yards. An offensive line that had given up an NFL-low four sacks, gave up one on consecutive first-quarter possessions. The Rams converted only two of 11 third downs.
“When you look at in in its totality,” McVay said, “there’s just some sharper things we can do at more of a premium level.”
The Rams trailed 3-0 at the end of the first quarter before Stafford connected with Kupp for a 28-yard completion that kick-started the offense and led to Woods’ scoring play. Okoronkwo’s strip sack and Rapp’s first interception gave the offense the ball twice inside the Giants’ 14-yard line.
“It was a great job by our defense getting us in position to be able to score points as a team,” McVay said, “but we’ve got to be better.”