Culver City Observer -

Rams Comeback to Beat Chiefs

Undefeated during 2016 Preseason at L.A. Coliseum

 

August 25, 2016

Jevone Moore

Center Tim Barnes (61) and running back Todd Gurley (30) get set on the first touchdown drive

The Los Angeles Rams have wasted little time in establishing the LA Coliseum as a home-field advantage. They improved their preseason record to 2-0 by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 21-20 on Saturday night, August 20 before more than 60,000 fans.

The Rams also stuck to the script of being down at halftime before scoring the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Los Angeles held its opponent scoreless in the second half for the second consecutive game before a highly supportive crowd already cherishing the moments weeks before the 2016 regular season begins.

"That was fun. It was fun to start the preseason off 2-0, especially here at home. You know, I can't say enough about the environment, the atmosphere and the fans... and then when we needed them they came around and they were loud," said Rams coach Jeff Fisher following the game.

"So we're really looking forward to the home field advantage that we're going to get with their assistance here when we come back the next time for our home field opener against Seattle."

Once again the Rams gave up the first score as Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith directed Kansas City 75 yards on the game's opening drive before running back Spencer Ware punched it in from the two-yard line.

Case Keenum, starting his second consecutive preseason game for the Rams, led the team 81 yards to tie the score at 7-7. The six-play drive was highlighted by running back Todd Gurley, playing in his first preseason game. He had four carries for 20 yards and scored the Rams' first touchdown up the middle for three yards.

Los Angeles' second scoring drive was even more impressive. The 79-yard 10-play drive was set up by the running of Benny Cunningham and Marcus Brown before Keenum threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Pharoh Cooper for a 14-7 lead at 13:44 of the second quarter.

"I think we are doing a good job staying on the same page. I think operation between plays is good, communication is within that, making sure that we are in the right play, we are lined up right, we are getting snapped on time. I think the guys are making plays. The guys are running the ball really hard," said Keenum.

"Todd ran some really good runs down there in the red-zone. Benny had again another great game... It's nothing new. Benny has been playing at a high level and it's fun to watch."

The Chiefs responded with a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Smith to Jeremy Machlin to tie the game at 14, then took the halftime lead 20-14 with a 32-yard field goal by Cairo Santos.

Los Angeles rookie quarterback Jared Goff entered the game at 10:00 of the second quarter. It was a rough start as Goff was sacked on the second play, fumbled and coughed up the ball to Kansas City.

Goff faired better in the next series as the team got a couple of first downs before he got sacked again and fumbled the ball out of bounds at the L.A. 33-yard line. The Rams had to feel lucky to be down by only six points at half.

Goff: "Started to settle in there after a few drives. I felt much better as the game went on, felt a lot more comfortable. It's the same story as it's been the last few weeks; every day gets a little bit better. Every game gets a little bit better, every drive, every play. So, I felt think I've made some good strides."

Fortunately for the Rams their defense threw a shutout in the second half for the second consecutive game that gave their offense an opportunity to get the exhibition win. Stat-wise the team gave up 390 total net yards, 308 passing, 82 rushing, 24 first downs and allowed the Chiefs' offense a 46% completion rate on third-down conversions.

"I'd rather see no points given up in the first half than I would the second half, because your starters are playing the first half. But then again, we're not game planning, per say. But, too many big plays, too many explosive plays, not enough plays on third down, not enough turnovers by our standards," said Fisher.

"And of course, the game itself was framed by time of possession. The defense was on the field almost 37 minutes. So, therein lies the problem with getting your offense some reps. We're a little disappointed we didn't get more offensive reps, but we made the most of them."

Goff and the Rams made the most of it on the winning drive early in the fourth quarter: five plays for 71 yards culminating with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Goff to running back Marcus Brown at 10:35. It started with a seven-yard pass to tight end Justice Cunningham followed by a 17-yard completion to receiver Brian Quick.

Enter Marcus Brown. First Brown ran 28 yards to the Kansas City 15-yard line and then set up the winning score with a five-yard run. Brown then made a nice grab and spin into the end zone to retake the lead. The Ram faithful rejoiced, the players were elated as the fireworks flashed and boomed high above the Coliseums famed double peristyle arches.

Fisher: "Being realistic, it's still preseason, but we're accomplishing what we want to accomplish as we go into the games. I'm pleased with the run game. I was especially pleased with the second-half offense, the offensive line, the backup offensive linemen; they're making a difference in there. I can see improvement there.

George Laase

Pharoh Cooper dives for the go-ahead touchdown

"Overall, probably the most encouraging thing about the night was the fans. The players were talking about it well after the game, how hard it was to hear there at the end.

"I got word back from (Chiefs QB) Alex Smith that this is a preseason game and this place is louder than some of the toughest places that he's played. The fan participation and support and energy was great. We obviously know that's only going to improve as we hit the regular season."

The Rams now travel for their final two preseason games. They'll play at Mile High Stadium this Saturday, August 27 to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos. Five days later they fly to Minneapolis for a Thursday night game on September 1 against the defending NFC North Champion Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

 

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