How the Rams got to the NFC Championship Game: Key wins, acquisitions, turning point, top reasons for success


Few NFL teams have been as direct about their desire to win now as the Rams. Mortgaging first-round picks is one thing. Acquiring a new starting quarterback, running back, wide receiver and passing thrower in the same calendar year is quite another. But Los Angeles did just that in 2021, pulling out all the stops for its already all-inclusive ethos, and guess what? It has paid off, at least so far. A year after dropping in the divisional round of the playoffs, Sean McVay’s Rams are entering the NFC Championship for the second time in four seasons, looking to lead their new roster to a Super Bowl title.

How on earth did this team, which started the 2020 playoffs with John Wolford at center, manage to win the Super Bowl in a single win? Let’s review with a look back at their key acquisitions, most significant wins, and other notable moments from their 2021 run:

Key Acquisitions

It’s hard to overstate how bold — and fair — the Rams were in all of their best moves this season. The Bucs proved in 2020 that you can, in fact, go your way to a championship, luring Tom Brady and his pals to Tampa Bay. LA did their best to follow suit. Stafford is no Brady, of course, reminding Rams fans of his worst tendencies in Detroit with a slew of ill-timed forced throws at the end of the year. But he also really elevated McVay’s offense, generally looking much more like an MVP than an overpriced upgrade. Stafford almost single-handedly preserved the Rams’ victory in the divisional round — against Brady, no less — and has already proven himself worth the high price tag, which included former starter Jared Goff.

Michel, Beckham and Miller were all Grade A contributors in the army led by Stafford. The former Patriots fullback was curiously quiet early in the Rams’ Division-Round victory, but his reliable late-season vision helped fuel an underrated ground game. Beckham hasn’t released screaming numbers since bidding farewell to Cleveland, but he’s delivered almost every time Stafford has pitched in, making up for the in-season loss of Robert Woods in an understated way. Miller, meanwhile, doesn’t catch the eye of Aaron Donald, but he’s now recorded seven sacks in 10 games (including the playoffs) as a peak presence.

Rams general manager Les Snead may be wronged as he seeks to restore the team’s long-term pieces through the draft, but my goodness, if anyone deserves credit for properly flipping the capital of project for proven assets, it is him. He and McVay didn’t run away, but rather embraced the turnover — usually an unfortunate reality of the NFL — and used it for immediate results.

Top draft picks

A look at the previous section will explain why this list is not exhaustive; the Rams are truly a winning operation now, relying more on quick fixes than incoming youngsters. That’s not to say they don’t have local stars or up-and-coming stars. Cooper Kupp deserves MVP votes at wide receiver, for shouting out loud, and guys like Donald, Taylor Rapp and Tyler Higbee have all emerged from within the organization. Suffice to say that the rookie class of 2021 is far from the main reason for their rise. Jones, however, played a key role in defending Raheem Morris when he was healthy, being one of the best cover linebackers on the team.


Week 14 at Cardinals: You could make the case for Week 3, when Stafford and the Rams fully arrived as an offensive powerhouse, toppling defending champion Bucs in a 34-24 win that wasn’t as close as the scoreline suggests. But it’s too early for a turning point. The team’s first rematch with Arizona – one is more fitting, coming shortly after a three-game losing streak. Stafford fought his way against the Cards’ secondary, throwing three scores and leading a bunch of long runs, while the Rams knocked out Kyler Murray twice, solidifying McVay’s team as the most formidable in the NFC West. and helping extend an eventual five-game winning streak. which lasted until the season finale.

key victory

Wild Card vs. Cardinals: Arizona played a big role in the Rams’ push, as you can see. Stafford and Co. looked in danger of collapsing after missing a Week 18 game against the 49ers, in which San Francisco stormed from behind to win in overtime. But then the Cards came back to town to open the playoffs, and the Rams did light work on their rivals. Building wisely on smooth play with Michel and Cam Akers, McVay helped take the pressure off Stafford and gave the whole squad a major confidence boost ahead of the Division Round rematch with Brady and the Bucs. .

The main reasons for their race

  • Star power in attack: There’s a difference between having talent on paper and delivering on the field, but the Rams have struck the right balance in some important places this year, including in their current playoff run. Stafford, in particular, proved in the dying seconds of the Bucs’ Divisional Division loss to the Rams why his confident big arm is so valuable. It also helps that the Rams have so many outlets for him, from target machine Kupp to savvy OBJ to the athletic duo of Akers and Michel. If they need to win a shootout, they’ve got the staff and the penchant for gaming to do it.
  • The defensive front: Jalen Ramsey deserves a lot of credit for giving swagger and stoppage production in the high school, but the Rams have made their money in the trenches for as long as Donald has been busy inside. Their D-line has recorded more sacks this season than all but two teams – the record-breaking Steelers and the defensive-oriented Vikings – and was the main reason Tom Brady took a full half to go for his last victory in playoffs. Morris’ unit was also spirited against the run, finishing 2021 as the league’s No. 1 peak defense. This is the recipe for January success if ever there was one.

Complete results 2021


against the bears

F, 34-14


at Colts

F, 27-24


against the buccaneers

F, 34-24


against the cardinals

L, 37-20


at Seahawks

F, 26-17


among the giants

F, 38-11


against the Lions

F, 33-22


among texans

F, 38-22


against titans

L, 28-16


at 49ers

L, 31-10


at the packers

L, 36-28


against Jaguar

F, 37-7


among the cardinals

F, 30-23


against the Seahawks

F, 20-10


among the vikings

F, 30-23


to the crows

F, 20-19


against 49ers

L, 27-24 (OT)

Generic map

against the cardinals

F, 34-11


among the buccaneers

F, 30-27

NFC Championship against 49ers To be determined

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