How a Rolex helped keep the Los Angeles Rams perfect

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LOS ANGELES — When you’re undefeated, you need some luck along the way. The Rams’ luck Sunday was Ty Montgomery, two yards deep in the end zone, choosing to run the ball out—instead of giving the ball to one of the best quarterbacks ever at his 25 with two minutes left, needing just a field goal to win. Montgomery fumbled. Rams recovered. Wisconsin threw a brick through its collective TV set. Game over.

But that’s too simple. This game was actually a vivid illustration why the Rams, at 8-0, sit atop the NFL mountain approaching the midpoint of the NFL’s 99th season. They will have contenders to the throne, contenders from New England and Kansas City and rising New Orleans (8-0 Rams at 6-1 Saints, next Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET), and maybe even from Minnesota, Carolina, Washington or down the street; the Chargers seem pesky. It’s a good illustration because of Todd Gurley, the friendly guy with the long dreads and skinny wire-framed glasses, who does everything right and fits in on a team with a smart young coach and unassuming young quarterback and a team that plays complementary football.

One tight game, two exemplary plays.

I always look for the plays that explain precisely why teams are what they are, and I found two in the Rams’ locker room after the 29-27 victory.

One: Todd Gurley’s 30-yard touchdown reception in the middle of the third quarter, which looked so ridiculously easy. How does the best back in football, the legit MVP candidate, go untouched out of the backfield, go untouched on a crossing route, and go untouched running all the way for a touchdown?

Two: The “Rolex Play,” Gurley’s 17-yard run with 65 seconds left, the one when he just stopped running and went down at the 4-yard line, much to the chagrin of Vegas and fantasy fiends alike. You’ve got to hear the Rolex story.

So … were you watching Sunday? What a tremendous game in a tremendous setting, the 95-year-old Coliseum with the classic peristyles, with a quarterback certain to go down in history waiting for one more shot to win that never came. And the atmosphere. When the Packers came out of the ancient tunnel where so many of the greats in football history have entered, it sounded like Lambeau West—truly, maybe louder than if this game had been at Lambeau Field. “I didn’t really expect that in L.A., but that crowd was fantastic,” Aaron Rodgers said. Sometimes, you’re witnessing an event that’s just different—and this was just different, and great. I’m sorry we didn’t get to see another classic Rodgers late drive, but that’s football. The dumb Montgomery play—it happens.

But that should not obscure what else we saw in the 29-27 L.A. victory. Namely this: The Rams are not going anywhere. They survived Sunday, but every great team has to survive on days when it’s not at its best, or when the foe is really good. Look back at every champion, and you’ll see a shaky win or two. There is no shame in edging Aaron Rodgers instead of dominating him.

On Sunday, two plays taught us so much about this team. A touchdown and an oddity. Understand those, and you go a long way toward understanding this team.

As the NFL reaches its midpoint, the 8-0 Rams and 7-1 Chiefs are the headliners. They meet three weeks from tonight, in Mexico City. We’ll have time to blow out that story.

First, two plays. I want you to understand the Los Angeles Rams.

The Gurley Touchdown

The Rams have a jillion weapons in the passing game. Gurley is third in targets. Often, he feels first. He’s so good out of the backfield that coach Sean McVay tries to get him the ball in space three or four times a game, and he uses the legal picks that so many teams use. When they work, they’re things of beauty. When they don’t, the ball might be incomplete, or the back might get waylaid coming out of the backfield.

“The key is Higbee,” Gurley told me at his locker after the game. That’s Tyler Higbee, the Rams’ Bavaro-like 255-pound tight end. “Higbee’s a beast.”

On this play, Gurley is split left in the slot, and he runs out just past the line, then does a crosser to the right. The Packers’ precocious inside linebacker, Blake Martinez, spies Gurley and makes a beeline for him. But here comes Higbee. All he wants to do is “accidentally” knock the Gurley cover guy off his course. Higbee puts an “accidental” shoulder into Martinez, and suddenly, Gurley is wide open. Martinez, who would have been hopelessly behind Gurley, now covers Higbee, hoping one of his mates sees the legal pick play.

Somebody get Gurley!

Nobody got Gurley.

McVay, afterward, didn’t want to give away the store, but he did tell me, “That was by design.” Of course it was. So many things the Rams do are by design, ghost-like maneuvers you don’t see clearly but when they’re over, you wonder, “How’d that happen?”

At his locker, Gurley was almost sheepish about it, like his coach. “Their guy [Martinez] was off me a little bit,” Gurley said. “My job is just be patient and then go across, come underneath him. It was wide open. We were practicing this play for probably a month.”

“A month?” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. “Never called it once. Not in a game. Just in practice. In practice, our guys haven’t been able to pick it up, not one time in practice. We’re like, ‘Yeah, this is gonna work.’ “

“You mean the pick part of it?” I said.

“Yup,” he said. “It’s a natural pick. Higbee’s the best. He’s one of the best shift blockers in the league. He does a lot of great stuff that gets unnoticed on this team. He’s our sixth offensive lineman and he’s always doing great job in play action passes, everything. His work does not go unnoticed by his teammates—tell you that.”

The team, the team, the team.

The Rolex Play

So we shouldn’t go crazy in praising a player for getting down in-bounds and giving up a touchdown for the good of the team, when the clock can be run out. We won’t. But it’s worth pointing out because it illustrates a lot about how symphonic this team is, and how the players and coaches listen and learn.

In training camp, McVay works on special plays. Odd plays, plays that might come up once a year or maybe once in 10 years. Or never. In camp, McVay and the staff worked on the play they christened the “Rolex Play.” Meaning this, as McVay told me: “Time is more important than the points. Time means everything there.”

It’s part of the McVay program. Each week, the special teams coach, John Fassel (the ultra-slim man’s nickname is “Bones”), gathers plays from around the league—either good ideas on weird plays, or plays teams messed up by simply not using common sense. “Bones has a meeting every week where we compile situations, try to educate ourselves as coaches and our players on, If this happens, how do we handle it? Rolex was one of those. In Rolex, if we got a first down there, that was one of those get-down-in-bounds situations. As long as we hang onto the ball, they can’t score. But we score, then they get the ball back.”

In the huddle, on third-and-10 with 65 seconds to play, multiple guys said one of three things: “Rolex,” “Get down,” and “Don’t score.” That, as guard Rodger Saffold told me, is a group of players who understand what’s required there, all thinking in unison. Again: It’s not stunningly smart. It’s just sensible, and shows the how unified and well-drilled the team is.

So McVay called the power sweep, pitched to Gurley. Classic power football. And it worked. From the 21, Gurley broke through the line and sprinted toward the goal line. “I could have walked into the end zone,” Gurley said. “But we talked in the huddle about being situationally aware and just getting down and winning the game.”

It almost looked like the Green Bay defensive back, vet Tramon Williams, tried to lift up Gurley and keep him going. Strange, unless you understand the story.

“They want the ball in 12’s hands, of course,” Gurley said. Aaron Rodgers, he means.

A Jared Goff kneeldown, and game over.

I said to Gurley: “You realize every fantasy player who has you on their team is screaming, “Score! Score!”

Players, many of them, hate the fantasy football pollution on the game. Gurley gave me a little bit of a snide look. He said: “They should be happy about all the performances I gave them in the weeks before. They need to be humbled as well.”

So there.

“Lots to like about today,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “Honestly, this game showed a lot about how we’re about team and family before it’s about anything. The most special things the Rams have going on offensively is that some of their best players are really some of the most special people. Jared and Todd. Really, two special human beings as far as their humbleness, their attitudes, really just the way they come in every single day to work as hard as anybody else if not harder. We’re in good hands with those guys.”

They’re in good hands, period. “Teams are testing us now, trying to figure out what to do to beat us, and they’ve got a lot of film to do that,” Whitworth said. “It’s a test for us, but …”

He trailed off. I can complete the sentence.

But they’re passing the test.

Read the rest of Peter King’s Football Morning in America here

2022 NFL Playoff Picture Week 14: Standings, clinching scenarios ahead of Dolphins vs Chargers on SNF

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Week 14 on Sunday Night Football features a matchup between Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins against Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock. December is here and Week 14 means that we’re officially thinking about the NFL playoff picture, and who will be in contention for a spot in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, this February. Here’s how things stand in the playoff picture heading into the weekend:

RELATED: FMIA Week 13 – Brock Purdy Gets The Save And The Starting Job; Burrow Still Owns Mahomes And The Chiefs

Where do the Dolphins and Chargers stand in the 2022 NFL Playoff Picture ahead of Week 14?

Miami Dolphins:

Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins (8-4) are currently in Wild Card position despite a brutal 33-17 loss against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 13 where the third-year QB injured his ankle on a strip sack late in the 4th quarter. According to Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, the injury is not serious and Tagovailoa is expected to start this Sunday. The Dolphins are 14-3 in Tagovailoa’s last 17 starts dating back to Week 11 last season and look to make their first playoff appearance since 2016. Tagovailoa currently leads the NFL in passer rating (112.0) and yds/attempt (9.02).

RELATED: Mike McDaniel – I don’t anticipate any setback that would keep Tua Tagovailoa from playing

LA Chargers:

Herbert and the LA Chargers (6-6) are currently in the hunt for a playoff spot and sit one game behind the New England Patriots after picking up their 3rd loss in the last 4 games last Thursday against the Raiders. The Chargers have not made it to the playoffs since 2018 when they lost 48-21 in the Divisional round to the New England Patriots. Herbert, also a third-year quarterback drafted one pick behind Tagovailoa in 2020, is looking to make his first career playoff appearance.

See below for the 2022 NFL playoff clinching scenarios and standings for Week 14 as well as additional information on how to watch and live stream this week’s Dolphins vs Chargers match-up.

RELATED: How to watch Dolphins vs Chargers  – TV/Live Stream info for Sunday night’s game

2022 NFL Playoff Clinching Scenarios for Week 14:

Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) vs Denver Broncos (3-9) – Sunday, December 11 (4:05 PM ET)

The Kansas City Chiefs can clinch the AFC West division title with the following:

  • A win against the Broncos AND a LA Chargers loss against the Miami Dolphins.

Minnesota Vikings (10-2) vs. Detroit Lions (5-7) – Sunday, December 11 (1:00 PM ET)

The Minnesota Vikings can clinch the NFC North division title this Sunday with the following:

  • A win or tie against the Lions.

Philadelphia Eagles (11-1) vs New York Giants (7-4-1) – Sunday, December 11 (1:00 PM ET)

The Philadelphia Eagles can clinch a playoff berth with the following:

  • A win or tie against the New York Giants

OR

  • A San Francisco 49ers loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers AND a Seattle Seahawks loss against the Carolina Panthers.

RELATED: PFT’s Week 14 2022 NFL Power Rankings

AFC Standings – Week 14

  1. Buffalo Bills (9-3)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (8-4)
  4. Tennessee Titans (7-5)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)
  6. Miami Dolphins (8-4)
  7. New York Jets (7-5)

In the Hunt:
New England Patriots (6-6)
Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)
Las Vegas Raiders (5-7)

NFC Standings – Week 14

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (10-2)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (8-4)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (9-3)
  6. NY Giants (7-4-1)
  7. Seattle Seahawks (7-5)

In the Hunt:
Washington Commanders (7-5-1)
Detroit Lions (5-7)
Green Bay Packers (5-8)

Which teams have been eliminated from playoff contention?

The Bears (3-10) and Texans (1-10-1) were both eliminated from playoff contention in Week 13. The Cardinals and Broncos could face elimination in Week 14.

RELATED: Bills move into first place in AFC


How to watch the Miami Dolphins vs LA Chargers:

  • Where: SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California
  • When: Sunday, December 11
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Miami Dolphins vs LA Chargers game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

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The 2022 NFL Football season is finally back in session. This Sunday night Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins (8-4) will battle it out with Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers (6-6) as the race for the playoffs heats up in the AFC. The Dolphins currently hold one of the AFC’s Wild Card spots and sit one game behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East. The Chargers are one game behind the NY Jets for the division’s final playoff spot.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Playoff Picture Week 14 – Standings, clinching scenarios ahead of Dolphins vs Chargers on SNF

Sunday night’s game was originally scheduled to feature a match-up between the Chiefs vs Broncos but the NFL made the decision to flex the game early last week. The Chiefs vs Broncos game will now take place at 4:05 p.m. ET.

Live coverage of the Dolphins vs Chargers game begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America. NBC and Peacock have got you covered with access to this week’s games as well as every Sunday Night Football game this season.

RELATED: FMIA Week 13 – Brock Purdy Gets The Save And The Starting Job; Burrow Still Owns Mahomes And The Chiefs

This year’s Sunday Night Football coverage will feature Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth in the booth and Melissa Stark on the sidelines. Live coverage begins every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America with the talented group of Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Jason Garrett, Chris Simms, Jac Collinsworth, Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. Berry, a fantasy football industry pioneer, will also appear on Peacock’s exclusive NFL post-game show, Sunday Night Football Final.

RELATED: How to watch Matthew Berry on NBC Sports

Football Night in America will also feature a weekly segment hosted by Simms and sports betting and Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Playoff Picture Week 13 – Standings, clinching scenarios ahead of Colts vs Cowboys on SNF

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule:

*Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Thursday, Sept. 8 (Week 1) – Josh Allen’s four touchdowns power Bills to 31-10 victory over Rams

Sunday, Sept. 11 (Week 1) – Bucs take care of business against Cowboys, who lose Dak Prescott late

Sunday, Sept. 18 (Week 2) Packers roll over Bears 27-10 as Aaron Jones, Preston Smith star

Sunday, Sept. 25 (Week 3) – Broncos do just enough to pull off 11-10 win over 49ers

Sunday, Oct. 2 (Week 4) – Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs dominate Bucs 41-31

Sunday, Oct. 9 (Week 5) – Justin Tucker’s last-play field goal delivers 19-17 win for Ravens

Sunday, Oct. 16 (Week 6) – Eagles intercept Cooper Rush three times in 26-17 win

Sunday, Oct. 23 (Week 7) – Kenny Pickett throws two late INTs, allowing Miami to escape with 16-10 win

Sunday, Oct. 30 (Week 8) – Bills beat Packers 27-17 for fourth win in a row

Sunday, Nov. 6 (Week 9) – Patrick Mahomes leads Chiefs to comeback overtime victory over Titans

Sunday, Nov. 13 (Week 10) – 49ers dominate Chargers in second half to win 22-16

Sunday, Nov. 20 (Week 11) – Travis Kelce’s third touchdown leads Chiefs to late comeback win

Thursday, Nov. 24 (Week 12) – Vikings improve to 9-2 with 33-26 victory over Patriots

Sunday, Nov. 27 (Week 12) – Packers lose Aaron Rodgers, another game as Eagles rush for 363 in 40-33 win

Sunday, Dec. 4 (Week 13) – Cowboys Too Much For Colts In Fourth Quarter Of A 54-19 Beatdown

Sunday, Dec. 11 (Week 14) – Dolphins at Chargers

Sunday, Dec. 18 (Week 15) – Giants at Commanders

Sunday, Dec. 25 (Week 16) – Buccaneers at Cardinals

Sunday, Jan. 1 (Week 17) – Rams at Chargers

Sunday, Jan. 8 (Week 18) – Matchup TBD


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!