Culver City Observer -

Rams Beat Raiders in Preseason Game #2

Goff and Gurley Spark Offense

 

August 24, 2017

The NFL game pre-dress rehearsal offered only a glimpse but a revealing one, both visually and statistically. Progress continued as the Los Angeles Rams ran their 2017 preseason record to 2-0 with a 24-21 win over the Oakland Raiders on Saturday, August 19 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

It's no coincidence that the Rams have a new spring in their step along with a rejuvenated attitude following last season's self-destructive tailspin. The obvious difference is the players buying in to first-year Head Coach Sean McVay and his coaching staff's culture and system.

The development of second-year quarterback Jared Goff, a revamped offensive line, a refreshed Todd Gurley, the sudden confidence in a bolstered receiving corps and the restructuring of a solid defensive unit is apparent. The team's maligned offense was able to sustain a balanced attack for the first time in Goff's short career.

Not lost was running back Todd Gurley and wide receiver Ron Wood's early impact in the opening drive of the game as the Rams marched 85 yards in eight plays that set the tone for the rest of the half. Los Angeles took a 7-0 lead when Goff threw to a wide-open Cooper Kupp for a 23-yard touchdown. Greg Zuerlein kicked the extra point.

McVay acknowledged staying balanced and staying manageable on third downs were key: "I think it was Todd, I think it was the linemen doing a good job. The tight ends competed well in-line. We had receivers on the perimeter that were contributing."

"Jared did a nice job of making sure that the runs we were running were verse the looks that we had discussed and wanted to be able to run against... I thought it was a great job by the offense, staying in those positive situations to be able to do that."

"And on the defensive side of the ball, those guys continue to fly around. I thought it was a great example yesterday of the importance that we place on turnovers, where Trumaine (Johnson) makes a big pick. We were fortunate enough offensively to turn that into a touchdown and that was a big turning point for us in that first half."

The Raiders tied the score at 7-7 on a 19-yard pass from Derek Carr to Lee Smith. Following a Ram three-and-out, L.A. cornerback Trumaine Johnson intercepted a pass intended for Raider wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Gurley pushed two yards into the end zone to cap an eight play, 41-yard touchdown drive.

Following an Oakland 13-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Crabtree, Goff and the Rams had their most impressive drive of the half. Sixteen plays that took almost nine minutes ended in a 35-yard Zuerlein field goal and a 17-14 halftime lead.

Goff completed 16/20 passes for 160 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Gurley finished with eight carries for 38 yards and one touchdown. The L.A. passing offense completed 31/42 passes for 292 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for the game. The team rushed for a total of 49 yards on 24 carries with Gurley's 9-yard carry the longest.

"I thought Jared did a good job making good decisions. But, when you look at some of the protection that he was able to have, that enabled him to be able to work through his progressions, make good decisions..." said McVay.

"I think that's a credit to the offense as a whole, and him leading the charge being that kind of point guard distributor, if you will, was a key to some of the success we were able to have."

Sean Mannion took over for Goff in the second half. After a scoreless third quarter the Raiders took a 21-17 lead with 6:30 to go in the game on a 17-yard Connor Cook to Johnny Holten pass. Mannion directed a 13-play, 80-yard game-winning drive including converting a fourth-and-long.

That set up a 20-yard touchdown toss to rookie wide receiver Josh Reynolds for the clinching score on the very next play. Mannion and Golf combined to throw to 12 different receivers while controlling 36:26 minutes of the 60-minute game clock. Last season the Ram defense was continually forced to play a majority of the game minutes due to an anemic offense.

The Ram defense held Oakland to 15 first downs and three scores but continue to miss the services of holdout defensive tackle Aaron Donald, easily one of the NFL's premier defensive players.

"I think it is very important for us to be able to have that continuity. Those guys out there playing together that you're going to be leaning on when September 10th rolls around and hopefully we'll have all those guys," said McVay about the defensive line.

The Rams play their instant cross-town rivals, the Chargers, at the L.A. Coliseum this Saturday, August 26. They have met twice earlier this preseason including some heated exchanges on the field the last time the teams met for some scrimmage drills at the Rams' UC Irvine training camp.

The 0-2 Chargers are expected to raise their level of play in the Coliseum for pride's sake alone based on their two lackluster preseason performances at home in StubHub Center.

Regardless that it's only preseason, Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in the NFL and Jared Goff, the youngest starting quarterback in the NFL, together have a 2-0 winning record. That's the kind of gesture that makes their fans smile... if only to enjoy the moment and imagine the possibilities.

 

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