Williams runs wild as Rams win their third straight by holding off Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams returned to the postseason after a year's absence with a little help following a game during which they didn't look like much of a playoff team.
Kyren Williams ran for 87 yards and a career-best three touchdowns and the Rams won their third straight and sixth in seven games with a much harder-than-expected 26-25 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.
Los Angeles, which followed a Super Bowl win with a 5-12 season in 2022, clinched the playoff berth when Pittsburgh knocked off the Seahawks 30-23 in Seattle roughly three hours after the Rams' game at MetLife Stadium ended.
“We are never going to take for granted being able to get wins,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “There were things that we did to try to not win this game today. But our guys found a way.
"Sometimes you need these types of games. It seemed we were a little off, but they kept staying together.”
Matthew Stafford threw for 317 yards and a touchdown, but also had his first two interceptions in the last five games as the Rams (9-7) won their third straight and sixth in the last seven games.
“We obviously didn’t play best on the offensive side of the ball, but our defense got some critical stops late in the game," said Stafford, who was 24 of 34 passing. “Not the cleanest game, but we found a way to win. A win is a win. It was a crazy game. Felt like I was seeing it well, but obviously made two bad throws.”
The Giants (5-11) had a chance to pull off an upset when Gunner Olszewski scored on a 94-yard punt return to get New York within a point with 3:27 to play. After an encroachment penalty on the extra point attempt, coach Brian Daboll elected to go for a 2-point conversion —but Tyrod Taylor missed a wide-open Saquon Barkley on a rollout to the right.
Taylor admitted having trouble deciding whether run for the 2 points or throw the ball.
“He just missed it,” Daboll said of Taylor, who was 27 of 41 and ran six times for 40 yards while being sacked six times. “We had Saquon. Just short-armed it a little bit.”
Later, a 31-yard run by Taylor allowed Mason Crosby to attempt a game-winning 54-yard field goal, but it was wide left and might have not had the distance.
“I stopped looking when it turned left,” Crosby said.
Williams, the NFL's second leading rusher coming in, scored on runs of 4, 2 and 28 yards. The 2-yard score was set up by an 80-yard catch-and-run by rookie Puka Nacua in the third quarter. A 37-yard pass from Stafford to Demarcus Robinson set up Williams' 28-yard score in the fourth quarter. Rams kicker Lucas Havrisik missed two extra points to keep it close
Taylor threw for 319 yards in his first start since replacing Tommy DeVito, including an 80-yard scoring catch-and-run to Darius Slayton. Wan'Dale Robinson also scored on a 24-yard run on an end-around and Crosby kicked two field goals, but missed an extra point after Slayton's TD that kept the Rams in front 20-16.
Dane Belton had two interceptions and a fumble recovery for New York. Stafford had thrown 170 consecutive passes without an interception until Belton ended the run with his first pick of the season.
Despite turning the ball over twice, Los Angeles led 14-10 at halftime on Williams' 10th rushing touchdown and a 4-yard TD pass from Stafford to Kupp.
A 24-yard end-around by Robinson and a second-chance 31-yard field goal by Crosby accounted for the Giants' scoring. Ben Skowronek blocked Crosby's first attempt from 45 yards, but he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for making a running leap over the line to block it.
Nacua finished with five catches for 118 yards, leaving him four receptions shy of breaking the NFL single-season record for rookies set by Miami's Jaylen Waddle (104) in 2021. Nacua also needs 29 yards to pass Bill Groman (1,473) for the most yards receiving in a single season by a rookie in franchise history.
Rams: LT Alaric Jackson was inactive for personal reasons. ... NT Bobby Brown hurt his right knee late in the first quarter and did not return.
Giants: Rookie CB Deonte Banks missed the game with a shoulder injury. ... RT Tyre Phillips (ankle) hurt a knee on the opening series, returned and was hurt against in the fourth quarter, needing to be carted off. ... S Jason Pinnock left in the first quarter with a foot injury.
Rams: Tune up for the postseason with a game at San Francisco.
Giants: End the season at home against Philadelphia.
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