Sean McVay and C.J. Anderson

USA Today

The Rams Did Work

Then they talked.

January 14, 2019 - 10:32 am

While the Patriots had something for all their critics on Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Rams did their work on Saturday night. And they did work. And then they talked.

You see, going into that game, the Dallas Cowboys were doing a lot of talking. The Cowboys were on a roll. They had turned their season around, they beat Seattle in the wild card game, and they were feeling it...  They were acting like they had just won the Super Bowl. Then again, go as long as the Cowboys did without winning a playoff game, and that probably did feel like the Super Bowl to them. So they were enjoying the hell out of it. And they were talking. A lot.

Demarcus Lawrence told reporters earlier in the week that he had plans for Jared Goff: “He is a quarterback. I don’t like quarterbacks. I go in every week wanting to take a quarterback’s soul.”

Amari Cooper said he had an edge because he faced Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters when he was in Oakland and they were in the AFC WEST: “I’ve played against those guys twice a year, both of them. I know them in and out. ... I know how they play, and I’m able to tell my teammates [and] the quarterback their tendencies.”

And one 30-22 win later, here’s what the Talib and Peters were saying back. Talib busted into a national TV interview of Jared Goff to tell everyone that DeMarcus Lawrence “ain’t taking no bleeping soul!”

And Peters was yelling at the Cowboys as they left the field. I won’t repeat what he was yelling, but it was spicy. He later said: “That was for Amari Cooper. He got strapped today. He said he knew us. Looks like he don’t know us too well cuz y’all just lost.”

And it wasn’t just Lawrence and Cooper that the Rams were bent about. One Rams player told Robert Klemko: “When I see Stephen A. Smith I’m gonna smack him upside his head!”

The Rams didn’t wait to smack guys upside the head. They were smacking anyone and everyone.  IF. YOU HAD A STAR ON THE SIDE OF YOUR HELMET, YOU WERE PROBABLY GETTING PUNCHED IN THE FACE. For a team that wasn’t running the way they would’ve liked recently, they did whatever they wanted on the ground to the Cowboys. 273 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. GOUGED THEM. AND THAT’S A TEAM YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO RUN. AND THEY RAN IT RIGHT DOWN THEIR THROATS. ALL GAME. 

AND while everyone focuses on the Rams skill position players and their head coach, it’s easy to forget about their offensive line. And those guys reminded everyone on Saturday night. They absolutely dominated a Cowboys front seven that shut down the best running game in the league the week before.

As Andrew Whitworth said the o-line heard what DeMarcus Lawrence said about stealing souls. “We heard it. He didn't get crap all night and they got buried. I think we’ve said all we need to say.”

And speaking of guys getting buried, how about CJ Freaking Anderson? He was buried a few weeks ago. He was cut by Carolina in November, signed by Oakland in early December and cut one week later. When the Rams called, he was in the process of moving from a rental home in Charlotte back to his permanent home in Texas. My guy was carrying boxes and had toted the rock for a total of 104 yards in 2018.

Then the Rams called and he answered. And they called again on Saturday night, and he answered again. 23 carries, 123 yards. Two touchdowns. His third straight 100-yard game for the Rams.

The dude is a beast. He is an absolute load to bring down. If you want to come for CJ Anderson, I suggest you come in a pack, because he’s not going down with just one guy and an arm tackle.

As he told MMQB: “I heard the ‘soul’ comment. I also heard the ‘Oh, C.J. Anderson, he had two games against the Niners and the Cardinals’ comment. You don’t look into that. I let my game speak for itself. Obviously the O-line took that personally. So we just let our game speak for itself. Every team is going to have a player, whoever that is, that’s gonna jawjack. And, of course, we have some jawjackers on our team too.”

The Rams have some jawjackers and some soul stealers. And they have some absolute maulers. Maybe it’s the extra week off, but one thing was clear: the Cowboys prided themselves on their physicality, but the Rams were more physical on both sides of the ball and it wasn’t close. They rushed for 273 yards and held the Cowboys to 50.

So much for that idea that Dallas was just going to come into LA , storm the Coliseum with their fans, and run all over the Rams. Cowboy fans showed up, but so did the Rams on both sides of the ball.

And that tells you everything that you need to know about Sean McVay as a head coach. While everyone with a head coaching opening has been looking for the next Sean McVay, Sean McVay was looking for his first playoff win. And he had to have it. The Rams are no longer the nice story that they were last season, now they’re a team with big expectations and they had to deliver. And they did.

And while everyone wants McVay for his wide open offense, crazy passing schemes, and jet sweeps, he just won a must-win game with power football. He out-powered a power football team.

Even to the point of going for it on fourth and goal in the fourth quarter when a field goal made more sense from a math standpoint. But not from an attitude and confidence standpoint.

And if you want to know what makes McVay truly special, it’s not the pass plays that he draws up, it’s the way he connects with his guys, the way he understands them and they understand him.

And now they get the Saints and I for one, can’t wait. Neither can the Rams. As Todd Gurley said about his knee and the win: "Feels good. But this ain't bleep. We still got one more. Keep winning. We gotta keep winning."