Culver City Observer -

Rams' Comeback Win Excites The 89,000 Fans

 

August 18, 2016

Fred Altieri

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum - Hours prior to 2016 L.A. Rams preseason debut

The Los Angeles Rams couldn't have asked for a better return to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, August 13.

On face value they beat the Dallas Cowboys 28-24 in a preseason game. But the real value was in the 89,140 fans celebrating the team's come-from-behind victory.

Rams running back Aaron Green caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sean Mannion with 1:54 remaining on the clock to clinch the win. The Cowboys had a 24-7 lead at halftime before the Rams scored 21 unanswered points in the second half.

Significant was the fans accord with the players' reaction following the win. Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher addressing reporters after the game: "I just left the locker room five minutes ago, finishing up with the team, and I had to remind them that it was a preseason game.

"It was as if we just clenched the playoffs as far as they were concerned, and that's always fun. It was a great evening."

It was quite evident from the mass of crowds that engulfed the Coliseum three hours before the 5 p.m. kickoff that an eventful debut was in store.

The nationally televised game also carried some clout on the field before the game as Ram great Rosey Grier shared greetings with players, owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Rams' owner Stan Kroenke and Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones were very popular judging by the fans' encouraging chants.

Dallas abruptly slammed Los Angeles on the first play of the game when Lucky Whitehead ran 101 yards virtually untouched on the kickoff return for a touchdown.

Ram rookie Pharoh Cooper returned the subsequent kickoff 46 yards to the Ram 41-yard line. Starting for Los Angeles, quarterback Case Keenum connected on his first pass to Benny Cunningham but a penalty and a keeper failed to get a first down.

The Cowboys marched 80 yards in 12 plays on their next drive to give them a 14-0 lead. Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott easily moved the team downfield before connecting with Dez Byrant. Bryant made a patented inside-the-pylon catch despite being smothered by cornerback Coty Sensabaugh for a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Keenum responded with a 75-yard 8-play touchdown drive, completing all five passes to different receivers: tight end Lance Kendricks, wide receiver Brian Quick, running back Cunningham, wide receiver Kenny Britt and running back Malcolm Brown. Cunningham broke three tackles to score from the 14-yard line at 1:41 of the first quarter.

Keenum: "I thought we did well on our scoring drive, obviously. The other two series that we were out there going three-and-out, you never want to do that. There were self-inflicted deals, we got a penalty on one and just a miscommunication and a drop on the other, but it's stuff that we can fix and stuff that we are going to continue to get better."

Dallas continued to punish the Ram defense. A 75-yard six-play drive culminated in a 32-yard touchdown pass from Prescott to Terrance Williams for a 21-7 lead.

Yet, the hometown fans were patient, not restless. Their dream of having a professional football team back in Los Angeles was becoming a reality.

Top draft pick Jared Goff entered the game for the Rams at 9:45 of the 2nd quarter. Goff's third play from scrimmage resulted in an interception by Mark Enzeocha at the Dallas 47-yard line. 10 plays later the Cowboys' Dan Bailey kicked a 44-yard field goal to give Dallas a 24-7 lead.

Goff completed his first two passes of the game to rookie tight end Tyler Higbee and moved the Rams to the Dallas 37-yard line before getting sacked for a nine-yard loss that stopped the drive. Goff's game stats: 4/9 completions for 38 yards.

"I thought Jared's play was good. He was productive. His decisions were good. Unfortunately, he took a couple of hits," said Fisher.

"The throw, again, to Coop (wide receiver Pharoh Cooper) was an outstanding throw. He had couple of drops. His shoulder was a little sore at halftime. So we decided just to shut him down. He'll be fine. He'll be practicing this week."

The Rams drove 75 yards on six plays to open up the second half with Mannion throwing to running back Chase Reynolds for a 14-yard touchdown. Running back Malcolm Brown's 39-yard run set up the score. The Rams fans, relatively quiet for the first half, began to warm up just as the sun was setting beyond the Coliseum's west rim.

The pivotal point of the game was a defensive stop at 2:48 of the quarter when the Cowboys drove 72 yards to the Rams' eight-yard line before a fourth-down incomplete pass shifted the momentum.

Rams linebacker Akeem Ayers: "We don't like to give up that many points. Guys are playing hard. We still have a lot to learn. We still have a new group of guys at new positions. We're still learning and there were a lot of good things out there and of course there were a lot of bad things as well."

Two possessions later Mannion directed a 13-play, 80 yard drive relying on Green's running and passes to rookie wide receiver Paul McRoberts. A seven-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Nelson Spruce reduced the Rams' deficit to 24-21 as the ever-lively crowd sensed victory for the first time all game.

The Cowboys went three-and-out on their next possession setting up the Rams' game-winning drive. A fourth-and-two first down conversion on a throw to rookie wide receiver Nelson Spruce at the Dallas 36-yard line was crucial.

The crowd erupted as fireworks bursted high above the Coliseum's iconic peristyle arches as Green gathered in the ball just inside the left end zone pylon with 1:54 on the clock. Game, set and one happy family, coronating the team's successful return to Los Angeles.

Fred Altieri

Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher chats with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Rams owner Stan Kroenke

Ayers summed it up best: "Yeah, it was exciting. The fans are all into it... from beginning to end. Just to see that many people come out for a preseason game, it just tells you the type of fans that we now have.

"It just shows how much they love football and how much they're excited to have an NFL team. We had great support. They were loud the entire game... we fed off it the entire game. Us, as players, we really, really appreciated that. We love the support that the fans have given us."

The Rams look to improve to 2-0 in the preseason as they host the Kansas City Chiefs this Saturday, August 20, at 6 pm at the Coliseum. It will be the team's last home game before going on the road to play Denver, Saturday, August 27 and Minnesota, Thursday, September 1, to round out the 2016 exhibition season.

 

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