Mistakes Hurt Rams In Home Loss To Bills
October 13, 2016
Three steps forward and one step back.
The Los Angeles Rams stubbed their toe as several key turnovers and failed offensive executions cost them the game against the Buffalo Bills, 30-19 last Sunday.
It was the Rams' first defeat at home this season to run their record to 3-2 and 1/2 game behind Seattle in the NFC West Division.
Los Angeles gambled and lost on a fake punt deep in their own territory late in the fourth quarter on a very hot October afternoon before 83,679 announced fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Not even the pink shoes the players wore to honor the NFL's "A Crucial Catch: Screening Saves Lives" campaign with the American Cancer Society could inspire a victory. The team's recent recipe of winning the past three games with a last minute defensive stand came to an end.
"I think it shows, in close games against good opponents the need for turnovers or protecting the football and we didn't get them defensively. It took points off the board in the first fumble and then we allowed them to put points on the board," said Rams head coach Jeff Fisher.
"I wouldn't have called it if I didn't think it was going to work. That's how those things are. We practiced it all week, we had the look, and it didn't work. I'll take that."
The Rams' offense was facing a fourth-and-five situation on their 23-yard line with 3:37 on the game clock. Set in the backfield, Bradley Marquez took the snap, ran right and failed to get the necessary five yards for the first down.
The Bills took over on downs and sealed the game three plays later when quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin.
Ultimately, the Bills' running game combined with four Ram turnovers kept Los Angeles at bay as Buffalo increased its 16-13 halftime lead by adding two touchdowns in the second half. Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy did the most damage by gaining 150 yards on 18 rushes for an 8.3 yards-per-carry average.
L.A. linebacker Alec Ogletree on McCoy: ""It was especially on us, we just didn't get in our gaps. We just kind of made up some stuff and they took advantage of our miscues. I thought we did a good job when we did get around him, we were able to stop him a little bit. He's one of the better backs in the league, if you make a mistake, he can definitely find a hole."
The Rams could only answer with a pair of Greg Zuerlein's field goals as the offense failed to put the ball into the end zone in the final two quarters. Zuerlein scored 12 of the Rams' 19 points by hitting a field goal in each quarter including a 54-yarder that tied the score at 16-16 at 8:11 of the 3rd quarter.
Todd Gurley scored L.A.'s only touchdown that tied the game, 13-13, with 4:39 remaining in the first half before the Bills added a field goal as time ran out to end the half. Gurley led the Rams in rushing with 72 yards on 23 carries but struggled again to make a significant impact.
Quarterback Case Keenum completed 21/31 passing for 271 yards but threw two interceptions, including a very painful pick-six late in the third quarter with the Rams looking to retake the lead. The Rams never recovered.
Buffalo cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman stepped in front of intended receiver Pharoh Cooper and returned it for a 41-yard touchdown after the Rams had tied the score, 16-16, on their first possession of the third quarter.
Keenum: "Yeah, we had 'Coop' on a deeper little out route there. When I thought he crossed his face, he did a good job. When I threw it out there and the guy made a heck of a play, but it was a bad decision, I think looking back...
"But, I can't do that. I can't do that... especially in this league, across the board there's guys who will make that play. I can't put my team in that situation, obviously. But the game came down to one or two plays and that was one play that I want back."
Statistically, the Rams led the Bills in time of possession – 35:34 to 24:26, offensive total yards – 325 to 305; passing yards – 243 to 112; and first downs – 23 to 15. The Bills countered by rushing for 193 yards on 27 plays compared to Los Angeles struggling to run for a mere 102 yards on 29 plays.
Fisher: "We still have a lot of room for improvement, in at least the two phases, I thought the special teams were outstanding. But offensively and defensively we've got a lot of room for improvement.
"Too many big plays defensively. Struggles when we're supposed to run. Same thing, lack of run game offensively. And then just the inability to go get points when we got around midfield. Players understand it... and we've moved on."
The Rams now take a long two-game road trip in terms of air mileage, first in Detroit against the 2-3 Lions on October 16. Fisher on the Lions: "We like the plan, we got a good opponent... But Matt's (Stafford, Detroit QB) playing really well for them. They're running the ball a little bit, so we got to get that fixed defensively."
"Then, like we said yesterday, it's about scoring points. It will be a big challenge for us. It's avoiding the third and longs inside the 20-yard-line. Those are hard. The best way to do that is to stay balanced. You stay balance run, pass and make some big plays, take some shots... avoid the penalties."
Following the Lions game the Rams will play a 'home game' the following Sunday, October 23 at Twickenham Stadium, located southwest of London as they host the 'visiting' New York Giants.
Then there's a brief respite as the team has a Bye Week before they host the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday, November 6, in the L.A. Coliseum.
Editor's Note: For more pictures of the LA Rams in action, click on the Photos button located under the Search box in the upper right-hand corner.