Vikings End Rams' Four-Game Streak
November 16, 2016
It was a bloody lip to say the least. The once-highest scoring team in the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams got a stiff dose of reality in thorough and convincing 24-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Rams had a four-game winning streak snapped while scoring their least amount of points all season.
For the first game all season the Rams (7-3) were outcoached on both sides of the ball as the team suffered its first road loss. First-year Ram head coach Sean McVay acknowledged as much: “Didn’t do enough to win the football game and it starts with me… It’s a very humbling league and definitely got humbled today by a very good team.
“I have to do a much better job for our team and especially our offense. Didn’t put them in enough good situations today but every single loss provides a great opportunity for us to handle some adversity the right way. And up to this point our team has done that.”
The game’s opening drive started out ideally for the Rams as quarterback Jared Goff moved the team 75 yards on nine plays ending with running back Todd Gurley scoring up the middle for a six-yard touchdown. Nobody expected that would be the Rams’ last score of the game.
The game also featured Viking quarterback Case Keenum directing a very satisfying victory over his former L.A. teammates from last season. Keenum had the Rams at 3-1 to start off the 2016 season before losing four of his next five starts. He was then benched in favor of then-rookie and NFL top draft choice Goff who subsequently failed to win any of the last seven games.
The Ram defense had very few answers for Keenum who completed 27/38 passes for 280 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Offensively, the Vikings gained 451 total yards including 171 on the ground. In comparison, the Rams gained only 254 total offensive yards, their lowest output of the season.
Minnesota tied the game at 7-7 early in the second quarter when Latavius Murray ran it in from eight yards out for the touchdown. The tone and the outcome of the game changed on the Rams’ next drive. Goff drove the team on another seamless scoring opportunity when he hit rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp near the Viking goal line.
Unfortunately for Kupp and the Rams, Minnesota strong safety Anthony Harris stripped and recovered the ball at the Viking one-yard line. Los Angeles never recovered from the fatal blow. “I thought the turnover really hurt us where we kind of strung together a drive,” said McVay.
“It’s a third down and we’re going to be within the two-yard line, if that’s not a touchdown there. But they made the plays. We didn’t do it.”
Kupp lamented: “Just held the ball in the middle there and I turned up, poked my head in… he just made a great play on it. Raked over the ball, came out and were able to recover it. Got to do a better job of securing the ball… Obviously it’s a play I want back, play I wish I would’ve made. We’re a better team than what we were out there.”
Neither team scored through the half and the third quarter as both defenses stiffened up. The Vikings continued to move the ball into field goal positions but couldn’t capitalize as their usually reliant kicker and former UCLA Bruin, Kai Forbath, missed on two attempts. The first miss was wide right and the second attempt was knocked down as it hit the left goal post.
The Ram defense finally cracked in the fourth quarter. Part of it due to L.A. being on the low side in the time-of-possession battle: 22:38 to the Viking offense under Keenum with 37:22 of offensive control ball. The primary reason was the inability of the defense to crack the Viking offensive game plan.
Minnesota added two touchdowns and a field goal in the final quarter, usually the time when Wade Phillips’ Ram defense takes over. This time they didn’t have an answer. Keenum directed an 11-play, 71-yard, 6:01 drive into the fourth quarter, ending with a two-yard touchdown plow by Murray on the goal line.
Following a Ram punt the Vikings covered 93 yards on five plays. On the fifth play Keenum threw short left to wide receiver Adam Thielen who easily juked Ram defensive back Dominique Hatfield and dashed 65 yards down the sideline for the virtual game-clincher.
The Rams have very little time to lick their wounds as the surprisingly 8-2 New Orleans Saints come to the Coliseum this Sunday for a matchup between two NFC division leaders. The game has been rescheduled to 4:25 PST to accommodate an NFL flex TV schedule transferred to the CBS feed, Channel 2 locally.
The resurgent Saints are lead once again by future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. New Orleans is currently enjoying an eight-game winning streak including a come-from-behind 34-31 overtime win over the Washington Redskins this past weekend.
New Orleans’ league-leading offense at 415.7 total yards per game will be up against Los Angeles’ fourth-rated NFL offense of 375.4 total yards per game. The Rams have scored one more in total points over the Saints, 302-301. It’s very likely that the only losers on Sunday will be those fans who decide not show at the Coliseum to witness the expected offensive fireworks.