Rams Drop Game To Eagles - 43-35
Third Loss of the Season at The Coliseum
December 14, 2017
NFL pro football is alive and well at the Coliseum. Over 67,000 fans saw the Los Angeles Rams lose a wildly entertaining "battle royale", 43-35, to the Philadelphia Eagles on a warm Sunday, December 10th afternoon.
However, the biggest news was Eagles' quarterback Carson Wentz suffering a torn ACL in his left knee, effectively ending his 2017 NFL MVP-contending season.
The third home loss of the season washed away any hopes the Rams (9-4) had to capture home-field advantage throughout the upcoming NFC playoffs. They lost control of the ball and the game with a 35-34 lead late in the game.
For the Eagles (11-2), their playoff hopes are certainly compromised. They clinched the NFC East Division title and have the best record in the NFC Conference with three games left. Their playoff hopes are now in the hands of backup quarterback Nick Foles, who did an admirable job of replacing Wentz early in the fourth quarter.
"There was a handful of things that took place in that game that we will learn from – we'll learn from our mistakes, including me, starting with me," said Rams Head Coach Sean McVay. "There is going to be some things that we certainly can't do if we're going to win some football games going into the last quarter of the season."
Without a doubt, the Rams defense committed the most egregious errors with several undisciplined personal foul penalties on crucial stops in the second half, allowing the Eagles to reload for a couple of scores as well as eat up precious time. Quarterback Jared Goff's first-down fumble and subsequent Philadelphia recovery at the L.A. 25-yard line with 8:13 left in the game compounded the collapse.
Eagles rookie kicker Jake Elliott's go-ahead 33-yard field goal 4 1/2 minutes later was the virtual game-winner as the Rams went three-and-out on their last drive of the game. L.A.'s last-second desperation play from their own 10-yard line resulted in a fumble recovery touchdown for Philadelphia.
The sea of Eagle green that seemingly packed half the stadium was ecstatic yet still unaware of the pending bad news concerning Wentz. Foles didn't miss a beat as the Rams defense couldn't contain him either. He led the Eagles on two drives taking up over 8 1/2 minutes resulting in two field goals.
Foles: "That's my job, that's why they brought me here. Just going in there, getting a win. Like I said, everyone stepped up when Carson went down because he means so much to this team and this city. It's great to get a win."
Wentz and the Eagles dominated the Rams in the stat department. They almost doubled L.A. in time of possession – 39:12 to 20:48. And they almost doubled the Rams in terms of offensive plays – 85 to 45. The Eagles led in total net yards – 455 to 307, net passing yards - 316 to 198, net rushing yards – 139 to 109, and first downs – 29 to 17.
Cornerback Kayvon Webster got the Rams off to a quick start with an interception at the Eagle 37-yard line. Two plays later running back Todd Gurley's 30-yard dash set up his two-yard touchdown run on the next play for a 7-0 lead. Wentz got the Eagles back on track with two long touchdown drives and a 14-7 lead after the first quarter.
The Rams continued to swing back. Following another Eagle touchdown drive early in the second quarter, Goff took the Rams 75 yards in six plays ending with a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Elliott kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 24-14 lead just before halftime. The Rams defense, other than the early interception, didn't have an answer for Wentz.
"They made more plays in the end than we did and they were able to come away with the win. But I think our guys demonstrated a resilient team that continued to compete," said McVay. "Loved the way we came out of the half and in the end there was a handful of plays that we felt like could have gone either way."
It took the Rams only five minutes into the third quarter to grab the momentum. Goff used Gurley and Kupp to set up a one-yard touchdown pass to side receiver Sammy Watkins to open the quarter. Four plays later Rams special teams player Mike Thomas blocked Eagle punter Donnie Jones' kick at the 24-yard line. Blake Countess recovered and returned it 16 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, 28-24.
Wentz came right back with a 75-yard, 15-play, 7:47 minute touchdown drive... and his last drive of the season. Wentz scrambled for an apparent two-yard touchdown that was nullified by an offensive holding penalty and likely tore his ACL while getting hit diving across the goal line. Four plays later on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line Wentz hit wide receiver Alshon Jeffery for a touchdown. Wentz was done.
Goff responded with a 75-yard, 7-play, 3:22 touchdown drive ending with a Gurley one-yard run. The 35-31 lead prompted the Rams fans to finally cancel out the predominantly loud Eagle crowd. Elliott's 45-yard field goal cut the Rams lead to 35-31. Foles entered the game and took care of business in the fourth quarter. The Eagle fans were back to being loud and boisterous.
Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith: "... but to be able to bounce back and win on the road, even though it's probably a little more balanced with our fans here, is a huge accomplishment for us."
The Rams now travel to take on the Seattle Seahawks (8-5), coming off a tough 30-24 road-loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The game is will likely decide the NFC West title. A win by Seattle will give them the tie-breaking advantage if both teams end the season tied. The Seahawks defeated the Rams 16-10 at the Coliseum on October 8.
McVay: "Unfortunately, you do have to learn some lessons the hard way, myself included, most importantly starting with me and I can't wait to watch the resolve of this team as we move forward into a great week for Seattle."