Defending Super Bowl champion the Los Angeles Rams were officially eliminated from playoff contention after losing to the Green Bay Packers 24-12 on a bitterly cold evening in Wisconsin on Monday.
As the temperatures at Lambeau Field dropped to 15 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 9.44 degrees Celsius) with a wind chill of seven, the Rams’ postseason aspirations froze.
The injuries the Super Bowl champion has suffered – notably to star wide receiver Cooper Kupp, quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive tackle Aaron Donald – have ultimately proved too much to for the Rams overcome.
“I mean this has been a real struggle in a lot of instances, a lot of adversity that we’ve gone through,” said Rams head coach Sean McVay after the game, per NFL.
Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield, after masterminding a come-from-behind victory against the Las Vegas Raiders in his debut last week, struggled throughout, going 12-of-21 passing for 111 yards and one touchdown. He threw an interception and was sacked five times.
With three weeks remaining in the season, the Rams tied with the 1999 Denver Broncos for the earliest elimination of any defending Super Bowl champion in history, according to NFL Research, as they slipped to 4-10 on the season.
“I think what we’ve seen from our guys is they’re going to continue to battle, they’re gonna finish up these last three games the right way, with the right mindset and mentality, and we’ll compete to the best of our ability,” said McVay, per NFL.
“That’s all I know how to do, and I trust that that’s exactly what we’ll do collectively as a group.
The Packers’ slim playoff hopes remains alive with the victory as they improve to 6-8 on the season.
Coming off their bye, the team looked much more well-rounded as its star players shined consistently against the Rams.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was 22-of-30 passing for 229 yards, one touchdown and an interception in the win.
The Packers’ dynamic backfield duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon dissected LA’s run defense, combining for 126 yards on 28 carries. Dillon ran for two touchdowns while Jones had one through the air.
However, the Packers will likely have to win all of its remaining games to hold any chance of advancing to the playoffs, an unlikely feat for a team which has disappointed all season.
The Packers face the Miami Dolphins, the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions in the final three weeks, but Rodgers see no reason why they can’t run the table.
“I do. Yeah, I do. I do,” said Rodgers said when asked if the Packers can win those three game. “Now we’re going to play three better football teams, but I do. Definitely.”
Rodgers added: “They’re all good football teams. Miami’s playing for the playoffs. Minnesota’s obviously division winners and coming off a big win. Detroit’s won, what, six out of seven, they’re playing really well.
“So it’s going to be three difficult games.”