By Earl Heath , Contributing Sports Writer
For weeks the Rams have had some difficulties with special teams. They stumbled through the month of November without a win and that was one of the setbacks.
In stepped Brandon Powell, the man who is on his third NFL roster since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He fought his way from the practice squad to helped the team land a playoff spot.
In the third quarter Powell fielded a forty-yard punt from Minnesota punter Jordan Berry. He then juked a couple of would be tacklers and ran up the right sideline. Some 61 yards later he dived head first into the end zone for a touchdown where he was mobbed by his teammates also firing up the Ram bench.
It was only the NFL’s second punt return for a TD this year Jakeem Grant Chicago Bears has the other one.
In a post-game locker room celebration to his team an excited head coach Sean McVay stated, “You guys got us right where we want to be. I thought there was one play that really grabbed the momentum and put it right back in our favor. It was and three point game and this guy (Powell) takes a punt to the crib.”
The return helped get a 30-23 win if front of a crowd of 66,708 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Another special teamer Matt Gay kicked three field goals as part of a big special teams day.
Mathew Stafford connected on 21 of 37 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown. He had three interceptions and the defense helped overcome them. “Less than spectacular in the passing game,” said Stafford. “No doubt I can be better.”
It was Cooper Kupp leading the way with 10 catches for 109 yards. It was his 14th straight game of 90 plus receiving yards which is a league record. Sony Michel had a big day rushing for 137 yards on 27 carries, a 4.9 average.
The Vikings (7-8) were threatening inside the ten on third and goal. Vikings QB Kurt Cousins threw a pass that went off the hands of receiver Adam Thielen and was grabbed out of the air by Travian Howard who returned 19 yards.
For Howard who had just entered the game for the injured Ernest Jones it was his first career interception.
The Rams (11-4) have secured a playoff spot for the fourth time in five years under Sean McVay.
RAM NOTES: Kupp has 1,734 yards and can break Calvin Johnson’s single season record 1,924 set in 2012. They both had the same QB as Stafford threw to Johnson when he set the record… Ernest Jones will be out with a high ankle sprain and will undergo surgery…Darryl Henderson has a sprained knee and will be out a few weeks. Greg Gaines has injured hand and he also has undergone surgery, but is expected to play this week…Powell had first RAM punt return for a TD since Tavon Austin in 2015.