Sean McVay’s red zone play calling is often a point of frustration for Rams fans. With his pass-first offense, there are times when he leans on Matthew Stafford too much instead of handing it off and letting his offensive line clear paths for the running backs.
There was a sequence late in the Rams’ win over the Seahawks that had fans questioning McVay’s play calling. Facing second-and-goal from the Seahawks’ 7-yard line with only 1:47 left to play, McVay called a pass play. The Seahawks only had one timeout left and the Rams were trailing by just two points, so the Rams could’ve run it twice and kicked a field goal before giving the ball back to Seattle with under a minute to play.
Instead, Matthew Stafford threw an incomplete pass to Puka Nacua on second down, preserving Seattle’s timeout. A screen to Darrell Henderson Jr. on third down forced the Seahawks to burn their last timeout, but the incompletion on second down saved Seattle a lot of time.
Ultimately, it worked out fine because Jason Myers missed a 55-yard field goal with 8 seconds left and the Rams held on to win, but had Los Angeles lost, McVay would’ve faced a lot of criticism for his late-game calls.
After the win, McVay explained why he opted to throw the ball on second and third down instead of running the clock down and burning Seattle’s timeout.
“Really just trying to score a touchdown. Figuring, what’s the best play? We had been having success running the football. From the 7-yard line, you could have a chance to be able to do that, but we were really trying to have a chance to score a touchdown,” he said. “And then we had some substitutions where some guys weren’t available. Felt like the screen on third down had a chance to get punched in. looked like we had some space right there and you get the benefit of the clock rolling because you feel like it’s a high-percentage play. But if we make that play, which I’ll call over and over again – feel good about that call – got a really good player on an iso in-breaking route. And if he catches that, he might fall in or the ball’s on the 1-yard line and now you have a lot of different options. But the most important thing was we wanted to not leave ourselves susceptible to just going up one where a field goal wins it for them. In those moments, we felt like the touchdown was more important than the time because of how much clock would be left over no matter how that ended up playing out.”
Stafford, for one, loved the call on second down to Nacua. It was a one-on-one opportunity against Tariq Woolen, who made a great play on the ball to break it up and force the incompletion.
McVay said he would’ve called that play over and over again, and Stafford would’ve been perfectly fine with it because they wanted to score a touchdown instead of settling for three.
“Loved the second-down call, opportunity to get one-on-one with Puka,” Stafford said. “Guy made a nice play. Would’ve loved to thrown and caught that one for a touchdown and we’d all be hooting and hollering on that one but it didn’t happen. It was great to get a completion on third down to make sure the clock was running. They had to use their timeout, then it was just up to the defense to make a play and they did.”
Again, the Rams got the win so no one will remember these calls in a week, but the outcome was almost very different because of the additional time Seattle had at the end of the game.
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Title: Sean McVay explains red zone passes late vs. Seahawks, which Matthew Stafford loved
Author: Cameron DaSilva