5 takeaways from the Rams' season-ending loss to the Packers

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Gary Klein
·3 min read
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Green Bay Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) sacks Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) during an NFL divisional playoff football game between the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark sacks Rams quarterback Jared Goff during the NFC divisional-round playoff game on Saturday in Green Bay. (Jeffrey Phelps / Associated Press)

The Rams’ season ended with a 32-18 defeat by the Green Bay Packers in an NFC divisional-round playoff game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

Here are five takeaways from the loss:

Jared Goff proved he's tough … again

The Rams quarterback showed his mettle the previous week when — 12 days removed from right thumb surgery — he came off the bench and led the Rams to a wild-card victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Against the Packers, with temperatures in the 30s and light snow falling at times, Goff started the game, and he played and passed with confidence despite the three surgically implanted screws in his passing hand.

Goff completed 21 of 27 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown.

“I was proud of myself for being able to get back out there,” Goff said, “but not proud of losing this game.”

The defense missed a healthy Aaron Donald

The rib injury that Donald suffered against the Seahawks did not prevent him from starting against the Packers, but it did limit him.

Donald played only 40 of 75 defensive snaps — or 53%. He made one tackle.

“The plan going in was seeing how he feels,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “He’s kind of always got that ability to tell us how he’s feeling. So, as far as the exact snap counts, there’s a lot of things going on during the course of the game that we have to be in tune with.”

The Rams failed to sack Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and hit him only once. Rodgers took advantage, passing for two touchdowns and rushing for another.

“They didn’t pressure maybe as much as I thought they would,” Rodgers said.

Cam Akers’ role will expand in 2021

Akers finished his rookie season by showing that he can operate effectively from the wildcat formation.

Akers took a direct snap four times and rushed for 13 yards on those plays, including a seven-yard touchdown. He added a two-point conversion after taking a lateral from receiver Van Jefferson.

Akers rushed for 90 yards in 18 carries and caught one pass for six yards.

Van Jefferson is an emerging standout

With Cooper Kupp sidelined because of a knee injury, Jefferson stepped up and produced the biggest performance of his young career.

The second-round draft pick from Florida caught a season-best six passes for 46 yards, including a touchdown that pulled the Rams to within 16-10 late in the second quarter.

Jefferson finished the season with 25 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns.

Penalties proved costly

Donald, offensive lineman Austin Corbett and punt coverage player Nsimba Webster were cited for infractions that stifled the Rams’ opportunity to score touchdowns or aided the Packers to do so.

In the first quarter, the Rams drove to the Packers’ 14-yard line, where they faced a fourth-and-one situation. The Rams lined up to go for it — or perhaps attempt to draw the Packers offside — but guard Austin Corbett moved and was penalized for a false start. The Rams were forced to settle for a field goal.

Donald was penalized for unnecessary roughness early in the second quarter, giving the Packers 15 yards to move to the Rams’ 21-yard line. Rodgers took over from there and finished the drive with a touchdown pass to Davante Adams.

When the Rams finished the ensuing possession with a punt, Webster was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving Rodgers the ball at the Rams’ 47. Nine plays later, Rodgers scrambled for a touchdown.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.