Rams Win And Await Watkins' Debut
August 17, 2017
For the second consecutive year the Los Angeles Rams opened up the NFL preseason at home in the L.A. Coliseum with a victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, August 12. The 13-10 exhibition win also marked the debut of new Rams Head Coach Sean McVay before an estimated crowd of more than 50,000.
But the big news was the acquisition of wide receiver Sammy Watkins from the Buffalo Bills in a trade for cornerback E.J. Gaines. The Rams also gave the Bills a 2018 second-rounder in exchange for a 2018 sixth-rounder. Watkins flew into town to watch his new teammates but did not suit up.
"Certainly there's going to be a lot of things that we need to clean up, but I thought it was a great opportunity to get out in front of our fans and come away with a win and the atmosphere was outstanding," offered McVay in the postgame press conference.
He also touched on Watkins: "I got a chance to talk to him. There's a lot of similar people that we've crossed paths with that have reached out to me since we acquired him and can't say enough good things about him... he's a special player and we're excited about adding him to our offense."
The Rams capitalized early on a Cowboy fumbled punt return following a quick three-and-out by the L.A. offense to open the game. Five plays later Ram Quarterback Jared Goff threw a short pass to Robert Woods who got hit a the three-yard line, fumbled the ball into the end zone. Fortunately it was recovered by alert rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp for a touchdown.
Both teams retired their starters for the night after a few series and predominantly played their second and third units for the remainder of the game. Dallas added a field goal in the second quarter. L.A. kicker Greg Zuerlein countered with a field goal in the third quarter before the Cowboys tied the score at 10-10 on a 25-yard touchdown pass.
That set the stage for backup Rams kicker Travis Coons to kick the game-winning 36-yard field goal with 2:37 to go. And just like numerous times last season the Los Angeles defense came through and stopped a few last minute scoring drives to preserve the victory. It also marked the first time the team has won when Goff started at quarterback.
"Yeah, I was happy with what we were able to, fortunately, do there with the muffed punt and finish off that drive. You don't design it to go that way, but sometimes the ball bounces your way and we took advantage of it," said Goff.
Goff on Coach McVay: "It was great. It was really good. I was talking with (quarterbacks) Dan (Orlovsky) and Sean Mannion about it all night. Just the way he verbalizes things, the way he's able to communicate with us and give us little tips in the play call and stuff to remember. Little reminders is so helpful and it was really good."
The Rams are now preparing to play the Raiders in Oakland this Saturday night in Week 2 of the NFL Preseason schedule. Watkins is expected to play in limited action. McVay spoke about Watkins after Tuesday's practice: "He's picking things up fairly quickly. It's a tough time to come in, in terms of where we're at in the installation because pretty much everything's in."
"But, I thought he picked things up well, was able to make some nice catches and you can see the movement and once he continues to get more and more comfortable, I think you'll see him be able to play even faster. I was pleased with Sammy from what I saw today."
Watkins' initial reaction to the trade and his health: "Just total shock. I'm definitely excited and honored to be here. I really can't wait to get started just learning the plays and being with the guys."
"I can be that homerun guy and I'm just here to help. I think they've got what they need as far as Robert Woods and Tavon (Austin) and the guys they drafted."
"I'm 100 percent healthy. The foot thing is out the door. I probably have to get in a little bit better shape, but other than that I'm fine. I'm just here to add to that and just come in and have fun and win some games."