Culver City Observer -

Rams' Playoff Chances Diminish With Latest Defeat

 

December 1, 2016

Seasoned reality finally set in for Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, November 27, as the team lost for the sixth time in its last seven games.

The bad news: the team is virtually eliminated from the 2016 postseason picture following its worst beating of the season to quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, 49-21.

The good news: the Rams still have five games remaining on the schedule for rookie quarterback Jared Goff to prepare for next season and beyond. Goff displayed a strong arm, surprising mobility and an improved grasp of the offense as he threw his first three career touchdown passes, all in the first half when the game was still competitive.

Yet, a full-scaled shootout that left the Rams down by only seven points at halftime turned into resignation and utter defeat midway through the fourth quarter. The usually reliable L.A. defense was decimated by Brees and company for 555 total offensive yards.

New Orleans also dominated in time of possession: 36 minutes compared to 24 minutes for the Rams.

"We just couldn't get it done defensively. They had 13 drives and seven of which they scored touchdowns on. If you go back to the last two drives against Miami, we've given up nine touchdowns in 15 drives. That's not us and that's not what we're about," said Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher.

"Looking at Jared's body of work, I thought he took a big step. Unfortunately, we didn't convert on third down. We couldn't get the stops we need defensively to give Jared chances against their defense, that had been struggling. The game slipped away."

Goff threw his first NFL touchdown to wide receiver Tavon Austin, a 24-yard pass capping a 75-yard drive with three big plays. He hit running back Todd Gurley with a 31-yard pass to open the game. Two plays later he threw to wide receiver Kenny Britt for 17 yards setting up the score and a 7-0 lead three plays later.

Goff: "It's not easy losing. It sucks. We want to win but there's things we need to fix and there's things we need to do better. It was evident today, we kind of got our butts kicked in every facet of the game, all around. And we know that."

With the score tied seconds into the second quarter Ram defensive tackle Aaron Donald forced Brees to a fumble that was recovered by outside linebacker Marc Barron at the Saints' six-yard line. One play later, Goff threw his second career touchdown pass to wide receiver Kenny Britt for a 14-7 lead.

Unfortunately for the Rams the defense ceased to be effective from that point until the end of the game. Goff compounded the situation by fumbling the ball away at the Ram 10-yard line with the score tied at 14-14. Four plays later on fourth-and-goal at the one Brees jumped and stretched the ball over the goal line to give the Saints the lead for good.

The Saints scored another touchdown but the Rams stormed right back on an 79-yard, eight-play scoring drive just before halftime. Goff hit tight end Lance Kendricks for a 15-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to seven. It was the Rams' last gasp.

"I thought we were able to move the ball well. That last drive was good to get right before half. So I thought we did well in the first half. The second half, we just couldn't get it going again, couldn't get that momentum we had in the first half going," said Goff.

The Rams' defense gave up 346 yards passing and 209 rushing while allowing 29 of 37 pass completions and seven touchdowns to the Saints' offense which included a circus play with New Orleans already up 42-21 in the fourth quarter that certainly rubbed salt into the Rams' fresh wounds. That was the ball game.

Fisher on the fans' disappointment in the team's 4-7 record: "They have the right to do that. It's my responsibility. Ultimately it's my responsibility. The win-loss record falls on my shoulders. Again, my responsibility is to deal with this football team and get them ready to play the next game."

That game will to be the Rams' toughest road test this season as they take on perennial AFC power, the New England Patriots next Sunday, December 4, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Quarterback Tom Brady and the Pats are currently tied atop the AFC standings with the Oakland Raiders, both with a 9-2 record.

The Patriots rank sixthh in the league in offensive yards per game at 386.2 compared to the Rams ranked second to last a 295.1 ypg. Brady leads the starting NFL quarterbacks in passer rating at 116.7 compared to Goff's two-game career rating at 83.3.

Goff did improve to 100.3 against the Saints while completing 20 of 34 passes for 214 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

"Bill (Belichick) is a great coach, he's got a great staff and he's got a really good football team. It's a tough place to play. They haven't lost many games there. Right now, the score is 0-0, so we'll see what happens," said Fisher after Tuesday's practice.

Defensively, New England ranks 14th in the NFL in total yards allowed per game at 353.2 compared to the Rams at No. 9 allowing 339.8 ypg. The Rams rank seventh in overall passing defense.

Both teams have recorded 22 sacks and are near the top of the league in both punt and kickoff coverage with the Rams No. 1 in NFL punt coverage, courtesy of punter Johnny Hekker.

The future of the Los Angeles Rams is now officially two games and counting with Goff at the helm. It's also a franchise and fanbase opportunity: a five-game window to see what's under the hood of their brand new quarterback, wins or not. His second NFL experience appeared to leave the same taste in his mouth as the first.

"I don't think there's any moral victories. Obviously I felt a lot more comfortable in my second game just from experience. I felt better out there and was able to see it a lot better. And it began to slow down a little bit for sure about halfway through the first half," stated Goff.

"But at the same time I want to win. I don't want to be out here saying I'm happy with what we did or what I did or anything in between because I'm really not if we don't win. And that's the bottom line."

 

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