Turns out, it did not matter whom Rams coach Sean McVay decided to start at quarterback.
The Rams’ defense, the NFL’s best unit during the season, continued its dominating play and carried the Rams to a 30-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday in an NFC wild-card playoff game at Lumen Field in Seattle.
Quarterback Jared Goff came off the bench in relief of starter John Wolford and passed for a touchdown, rookie running back Cam Akers rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown, and cornerback Darious Williams returned an interception for a touchdown as the Rams advanced to a divisional-round game.
The Rams also got three field goals from Matt Gay and a huge turnover from the punt coverage team in improving to 11-6.
The Rams will not know their next opponent until Sunday. It could be the top-seeded Green Bay Packers, but if the seventh-seeded Chicago Bears defeat the second-seeded New Orleans Saints, the Rams would play the winner of Saturday’s game between the fourth-seeded Washington Football Team and the fifth-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Despite a third-quarter rib injury suffered by star defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the Rams held Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson mostly in check and sacked him five times.
Goff, who underwent right thumb surgery Dec. 28, was on the bench at the start after McVay decided to start Wolford for a second consecutive game.
But Wolford, who led the Rams to victory over the Arizona Cardinals in the regular-season finale, suffered a neck injury with 5 minutes 40 seconds left in the first quarter when he was hit in the head by Seahawks safety Jamal Adams after carrying the ball on a running play. Wolford was taken to the hospital by ambulance for further evaluation as a precaution, a Rams official said.
Akers’ five-yard touchdown run and Williams’ 42-yard interception return helped stake the Rams to a 20-10 halftime lead.
But D.J. Reed’s 58-yard kickoff return set up a 52-yard field goal by Jason Myers that pulled the Seahawks to within seven points.
The Rams suffered a major blow when Donald left the game with just less than 10 minutes left. But the defense remained stout, and Goff engineered a drive that culminated with Gay’s 39-yard field goal for a 23-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Wilson was readying for another chance when, with just more than seven minutes left, Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam forced Reed to fumble during a punt return. Linebacker Micah Kiser recovered the ball for the Rams, giving the offense a short field.
Goff tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods to give the Rams a 30-13 lead.
Wilson’s 12-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf with 2:28 left cut the margin to 10 points.
The Rams’ offense could not run out the clock, giving Wilson another chance with 1:55 left, but Morgan Fox sacked Wilson on fourth down.
Goff completed nine of 19 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Wolford was three for six for 29 yards before he was injured during the Rams’ second possession.
Wilson completed 11 of 27 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception.
In addition to his rushing yards, Akers also caught two passes for 45 yards.