INGLEWOOD – Odell Beckham Jr. continued to point his left arm after jumping over Arizona Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson to catch a touchdown pass on a fade pattern in the corner of the end zone .
Beckham, the Rams’ star receiver, was likely making a celebratory “ice in my veins” gesture to remind those watching that he did his best under pressure.
Beckham has been the opposite of the cold since arriving in Los Angeles in November after a messy breakup with the Cleveland Browns.
Beckham’s first career playoff touchdown gave the Rams a 7-0 lead in the first quarter of Monday night’s wildcard game, but it likely meant a lot more for the wide who was once recognized as one of the best point guards in the game before losing to Cleveland.
Beckham had seven touchdowns in his tumultuous two seasons with the Browns, which started with so much promise. Beckham already has six touchdowns in nine games for the Rams, including quarterback Matthew Stafford on Monday. Beckham also had a 31-yard catch to set up another first-half touchdown.
Stafford may have had the most to prove in Monday’s post-season game, but Beckham did too and it could explain why he kept pointing his left arm after scoring the first points at SoFi Stadium . It was Beckham’s first playoff game since his first team, the New York Giants, lost to the Green Bay Packers in 2016.
Beckham could not find consistent success with an all-star Browns team, which included quarterback Baker Mayfield, wide receiver Jarvis Landry (his college teammate at LSU), and point rusher Myles Garrett. Many pundits said the Browns were better off without Beckham after the team advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs last season while he was on the injured list.
Now Beckham is helping a Rams team that desperately needed him after wide receiver Robert Woods was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
Beckham found a home with the Rams and he got his career back on track.
ODELL’S FIRST TD IN PLAYOFF.
– NFL (@NFL) January 18, 2022
THE RETURN OF WEDDLE
It didn’t take long for recently unretired safety Eric Weddle to enter the field.
Weddle received his first snap on the third play of the game and was part of the Rams’ three-man safety rotation with Terrell Burgess and Nick Scott.
Weddle ended his two-year retirement earlier this week to sign with the Rams, who were short on safety due to injuries to Taylor Rapp and Jordan Fuller.
Rams linebacker Troy Reeder wore the green dot on his helmet and handled call-of-play duties, which previously belonged to Fuller. Reeder hit Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray in the end zone and it led to the interception that David Long Jr. returned 3 yards to give the Rams a 21-0 second quarter lead.
MILLER’S FIRST BAG SINCE…
Rams outside linebacker Von Miller recorded his first sack since Super Bowl 50.
Miller broke free from Cardinals offensive tackle DJ Humphries to sack Murray for an 8-yard loss in the first quarter.
It was Miller’s first playoff game in nearly six years, when his Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers for the Lombardi Trophy at Levi’s Stadium. Miller played nearly 11 seasons with the Broncos before being traded to the Rams in November.
Cardinals star passing thrower JJ Watt has been officially called up from injured reserve to play his first game in months.
Watt returned to the field for the first time since sustaining a shoulder injury in October. He was initially diagnosed with a four to six month recovery delay, but returned 13 weeks after surgery.
Cardinals running back James Conner was also activated after being questionable with a rib injury.
FIRST MATCH SOFI PLAYOFF
SoFi Stadium hosted its first NFL playoff game after leading the way more than five years ago.
The Rams played two postseason games last year, but they were both on the road against the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. SoFi Stadium opened in 2020 as the home venue for the Rams and Chargers.
WINNER GOES TO TAMPA BAY
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the winner of Monday night’s wild-card game.
The Rams are on a two-game winning streak against Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, including a 34-24 win at home in Week 3 of this season. Last season, the Rams won at Tampa Bay, 27-24.
The Cardinals haven’t faced the Buccaneers since 2019, when they lost, 30-27, to a Bucs team that quarterbacked Jameis Winston.