Rams Take A Backward Step In Home Loss
September 21, 2017
One week after a storybook start to the 2017 season the Los Angeles Rams and their fans fell back to earth. The Washington Redskins outlasted the Rams, 27-20, before a half-filled L.A. Coliseum on September 10. Last year the dark clouds of doom never parted once they infiltrated the team. This season, the sense of resolve and hope is a marked contrast.
The Rams had multiple chances to take the lead after falling behind 13-0 before tying the game at 20-20 early in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, the final nail was Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff throwing an interception with a minute and change leftin the game. The Redskins (1-1) were relieved to get out of town with a win as they smothered the ball and the clock with an effective ground attack and an opportune defense.
"A play I probably shouldn't have cut to the check down on and wish I wouldn't have made obviously," said Goff. Tough way to end it but I think there's a lot of good things to learn from in this game and obviously never like losing. And never ever, ever are you settling with that."
"I think we saw that we can fight back. We were down 13-nothing pretty early and couldn't get much going offensively. Then, we were able to get some big plays and come all the way back and get a chance to take the lead there and ultimately tied it with the field goal."
The biggest surprise was the Ram defense taking a beating from the Washington running backs. Especially considering the return of Ram defensive tackle Aaron Donald. The Redskins gained a total of 229 yards on 39 carries allowing quarterback Kirk Cousins to balance the attack and keep the Ram defense guessing the entire game.
Washington running back Chris Thompson created most of the scoring damage including a 61-yard touchdown run 1:19 before the end of the first half. Thompson also scored the game's first touchdown on a 7-yard run.
"We didn't play the run very well and we're upset about that but we're going to do something about it. I did think we fought back in the second half and played a lot better run defense than we did, obviously, the first quarter kind of shocked us," said Ram Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips.
Running backs Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine constantly punished the Rams up the middle like a hot knife going through butter. Their greatest effect was allowing the Redskins to dominate the time of possession with a 60/40 margin.
Phillips: "Well it's all on coaching, number one. If we didn't play well, it's me. Well you always make adjustments, but I think just the feel of where everybody is, especially for linebackers. How to set the edge for the outside backers... unfortunately, we didn't do as well as we wanted to, but I think we'll do better."
"As far as Aaron Donald, he showed flashes. But, he was rusty...the more he plays the better he's going to get and the more he practices the better he's going to get, so we're looking forward to him playing again this week and maybe get a few more plays."
The Rams made the score 13-7 five minutes into the second quarter on Todd Gurley's one-yard touchdown push. It was set up by an emerging pattern: Goff throwing to his two favorite rookie targets. A 69-yard bomb to wide-open tight end Gerald Everett down the right side followed by a five-yard low-acrobatic snare by Cooper Kupp put the ball on the one-yard line.
Gurley started showing flashes of his strong rookie season with his second touchdown of the game early in the third quarter. Gurley took a short pass at the 20-yard line, spun, hurdled Bashaud Breeland at the 10-yard line, bounced off of Deshazor Everett at the thre-yard line and stretched the ball over the left goal line pylon. The 20-17 score had the Ram faithful realistically anticipating a comeback, something quite unimaginable last season.
The Rams have little time to dwell on the loss as they travel up to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara to take on the 0-2 San Francisco 49ers for a Thursday Night game on September 21. They'll be looking to avenge last season's two losses to the Niners. The opening Monday Night 28-0 shutout loss in the Bay Area was bookended with a season-ending 22-21 loss in the Coliseum, the only two wins for the 2016 49ers (2-14) last season.
"I know that we'll look at ourselves critically in the mirror, coaches included, starting with me and making sure that we do a good job with our short week of preparation going into a game against our divisional opponent in the Niners," said Ram Head Coach Sean McVay following his first loss as a professional coach.
"Clearly we didn't get the outcome that we wanted, there's a lot of things we can clean up, but now, whether you win or lose its time to put that one away, learn from the mistakes, continue to try to do some of the good things as we move forward in San Francisco."
"But, what you love in the NFL is you can't dwell on a win or loss too long –it's got to be that next up mindset and mentality and that's what our team has right now."