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Look who holds a playoff spot after Rams' Week 13 win over the Browns

Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Football

LOS ANGELES — The opportunity was right there for the Rams.

Riding a modest two-game winning streak, a team written off by many before the season began, had played its way into playoff contention.

And with the injury-riddled Cleveland Browns visiting SoFi Stadium on Sunday — ancient quarterback Joe Flacco was signed off the street and started — the Rams were poised to reach .500 and move closer to a postseason bid.

The Rams took care of business and kept rolling, defeating the Browns, 36-19, in front of 72,887. In fact, they hold the No. 7 playoff spot ahead of the late game involving the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers, who could vault ahead of the Rams with a victory.

Rookie receiver Puka Nacua overcame injuries and produced a spectacular performance, quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for three touchdowns and safety John Johnson intercepted a pass as the Rams improved to 6-6.

Johnson, who played the last two seasons for the Browns, was not the only player signed by the Rams to a veteran-minimum contract to come up big. Receiver Demarcus Robinson caught a touchdown pass.

 

Stafford, who continues to play through a right thumb injury, overcame a defense coordinated by Jim Schwartz, his first head coach with the Detroit Lions. Stafford built on last week's four-touchdown performance against the Arizona Cardinals, completing 22 of 37 passes for 279 yards. He has passed for 16 touchdowns, with nine interceptions on the season.

The Rams now have a three-game winning streak for the first time since the 2021 season, when they won four postseason games in a row, including a victory in the Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

The off week after a loss to the Green Bay Packers proved a great tonic for coach Sean McVay and the Rams, who have since defeated the Seattle Seahawks, the Cardinals and the Browns (7-5).

The Rams entered Sunday primed to strengthen their playoff hopes after the Seattle Seahawks lost to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night. The defeat dropped the Seahawks' record to 6-6. The Rams swept the Seahawks, so they would win the tiebreaker for a playoff spot.

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