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Rams clinch playoff berth with 30-23 victory over Vikings

Chris Simms and Mike Florio preview the NFC East showdown between the Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys and discuss whether or not the Cowboys can get their offense back on track on Sunday Night Football.

The Rams will be back in the postseason.

And they may host the first playoff game at SoFi Stadium.

Los Angeles defeated Minnesota 30-23 behind a strong defensive performance and a special teams score.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions, two of which were deep in L.A. territory and led to 10 points. But the game swung fully in the Rams’ favor midway through the third quarter when Brandon Powell returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown. That gave Los Angeles a 20-10 advantage.

While Minnesota put up another field goal, receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught a 7-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter to make the score 27-13. K.J. Osborn’s 6-yard touchdown pulled the Vikings to within a possession. But Los Angeles’ field goal on a 13-play, 69-yard drive that took 6:18 and saw the Vikings use all three timeouts put the game out of reach.

The Vikings kicked a field goal to make the score closer with 32 seconds left. But they but failed to pick up the onside kick, which allowed the Rams to take a knee and end it.

The Rams ran it effectively throughout the game with Sony Michel, as he finished with 131 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Running back Darrell Henderson had one carry for 17 yards, but had to exit the game due to a knee injury. The Rams also lost center Brian Allen (knee) and linebacker Ernest Jones (ankle) to injuries during the contest.

Stafford finished 21-of-37 passing for 197 yards with a touchdown and three picks, ending the day with a 46.8 passer rating. Receiver Cooper Kupp was the leading receiver with 10 catches for 109 yards.

On the other side, Kirk Cousins was 27-of-38 for 315 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Receiver Justin Jefferson had eight receptions for 116 yards. Running back Alexander Mattison, filling in for Dalvin Cook while he’s on the COVID-19 list, had 41 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown, plus three catches for 29 yards.

While the Rams have officially made it to the postseason, they also have a chance to win their division. After Arizona’s loss to Indianapolis on Saturday night, Los Angeles holds sole possession of first place. If the Rams beat the Ravens and 49ers over the next two weeks, they’ll win the NFC West.

The Vikings will have a harder time making it to the postseason after Sunday’s loss. Now at 7-8, Minnesota travels to Green Bay in Week 17 and hosts Chicago to end the regular season.