Rams Suffer First Road Loss
Case Keenum Leads Vikings 24-7
November 23, 2017
It was a bloody lip to say the least. The Los Angeles Rams got a stiff dose of reality, a 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.
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. Quarterback Jared Goff moved the team 75 yards on nine plays, ending with running back Todd Gurley scoring up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown. Nobody expected that would be the Rams' last score of the game.
Also featured: Viking quarterback Case Keenum directing a very satisfying victory over his former 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 benched in favor of then-rookie and NFL top draft-choice Goff who 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 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 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. Los Angeles never recovered. "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: "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. The Vikings continued to move the ball into field goal position but couldn't capitalize as former UCLA Bruin, Kai Forbath, missed two attempts. The first was wide right. The second was knocked down by the left goal post.
The Ram defense finally cracked. L.A. lost the possession battle: 22:38 to 37:22. Minnesota added two touchdowns and a field goal. Keenum directed an 11-play, 71-yard, 6:01 drive into the fourth quarter, ending with a two-yard touchdown by Murray on the goal line.
Following a Ram punt the Vikings covered 93 yards on five plays. 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 little time to breath as the surprisingly 8-2 New Orleans Saints come to the Coliseum this Sunday, a matchup between the 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 led 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 last weekend.
New Orleans' league-leading offense at 415.7 total yards per game will be up against Los Angeles' 4th rated NFL offense of 375.4 total yards per game. Both are virtually tied in total points, 303-302. Best of all, the Rams are going to find out what they're made of.