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Rams beat up Seahawks and advance despite loss of quarterback and defensive star

Rams rookie running back Cam Akers had a breakout game in his first playoff appearance. (Scott Eklund/AP)

The Los Angeles Rams faced questions at quarterback entering Saturday’s first-round playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. After an early quarterback swap and a dominant defensive showing, questions remain, although Los Angeles will have a week to figure them out following a 30-20 win at Lumen Field in Seattle.

Early this week Rams Coach Sean McVay knew John Wolford, a former private equity analyst, would start for Goff, who was recovering from a broken thumb.

But Wolford, making his second career start, left the game in the first quarter with a neck injury and was taken to a nearby hospital after taking a hit from safety Jamal Adams as he slid to the ground. Wolford eventually returned to the stadium to celebrate with the team after the final whistle.

“The thought process going into the game was our starting quarterback had thumb surgery. He did everything in his power to get himself ready. We felt like him being ready, even in a limited capacity behind John, was going to be the best option,” McVay said.

Goff was thrust back into his starting role under precarious circumstances. He struggled through much of the game, completing 9 of 19 passes for 155 yards and a late touchdown to Robert Woods. He was the Rams’ only option at QB, with Blake Bortles, who was signed as a third-stringer in late December, inactive Saturday.

Running back Cam Akers carried the Los Angeles offense with 131 rushing yards, the most by a Rams rookie in a playoff game. His 44-yard catch from Goff set up a five-yard touchdown run which provided a 10-point halftime cushion.

The Rams’ top-ranked defense helped build the lead two drives earlier, when Darious Williams intercepted a screen pass intended for DK Metcalf and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. The defense, which lost six-time all-pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald to a rib injury in the third quarter, sacked Russell Wilson five times and held him to his lowest QB rating of the season.

“This defense has been playing terrific all year,” Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said in a news conference after the game. “It was hard to get enough time, hard to find stuff we wanted to find downfield in the throwing game.”

Wilson was pressured on a season-high 50-percent of his dropbacks, with most of those coming from Donald and Leonard Floyd, who each had two sacks. Defensive end Morgan Fox sacked Wilson late in the fourth quarter, effectively ending the game.

Los Angeles looks to the NFC playoff semifinal with perhaps even more questions surrounding the health of its players.

McVay said he could not offer an update on Donald. He believes Wolford suffered a stinger but he returned to the locker room “smiling, looking good.” Wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who led Los Angeles with four receptions for 78 yards, left the game with an injury in the fourth quarter.

“For him to even be able to throw the football is pretty impressive,” McVay said of Goff. “There were a couple of limitations as you guys saw, which is what led to the decision to go with John. I was really pleased with Jared, and I think it’s a real credit to him just being able to handle this week the right way and have himself mentally ready to go.”

He said the team will determine who will start in the divisional round based on Goff’s progression in the coming week. The Rams will wait to find out their opponent next round, and the health of some of their other key players will be crucial to their chances of advancing deeper.

Find highlights from the Rams’ victory over the Seahawks …

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