LOS ANGELES — Ten minutes after the Rams’ first playoff win in 14 years qualified them for their first NFC Championship Game in 17 years, the dance party was going strong in the Los Angeles locker room.
After stomping the vaunted Dallas Cowboys running game, it was media skepticism the Rams were trying to grind into the floor.
“Keep running that smack about how we couldn’t stop Zeke (Elliott), or how we can’t stop the running game,” bellowed All-Pro nose tackle Aaron Donald. “Keep reminding us how we lost to the Saints and the Eagles.
The Rams throttled the NFL’s rushing king, limiting a man who went for 143 yards last week in beating Seattle to just 47 yards on 20 carries in Saturday night’s 30-22 NFC Divisional Playoff victory.
“You get tired of hearing this stuff,” said Ndamukong Suh, who played his best game in the horned helmet with three tackles for losses. “I don’t know how many times I heard we gave up more than five yards per carry, but it was too many.”
Even the crowd of 77,187 at the Coliseum had its doubts. More than half the crowd was rooting for the Cowboys.
They didn’t have much to cheer about.
“We were fired up to play this game,” said defensive end Michael Brockers, who actually made the stop on Elliott on the fourth down play opening the fourth quarter. “The bye week gave us plenty of time to hear people, fans and media, trashing our defense.
“It really became personal. We had something to prove tonight.”
The pundits hypothesized that the Rams would have to score to keep up with Dallas.
While Rams coach Sean McVay is known mainly as an offensive guru, he spent plenty of time with his defense getting ready for this game.
“I am so proud of these guys, every one of them,” McVay said. “They were determined not to let Zeke beat them, and they didn’t.”
Suh said McVay’s hands-on approach with his defense reminded him of the first time he talked to the Rams coach during free agency.
“I came here for a reason,” Suh said. “I remember the very first time I spoke with Coach McVay. He got me excited about what we could do this season.
“Now we’re one game away from where we want to be.”